Devex: Funding access to justice, a ‘cross-cutting enabler of the SDGs’


By Catherine Cheney

SAN FRANCISCO — Layers of red bauxite dust, the result of aluminum mining, settled over a village in Gujarat, India. Women living there said it was in their clothes, on their food, and — they suspected — the cause of a dozen kidney stone cases in children.

With the support of a community paralegal, they learned the bauxite processing facility in their backyard was violating environmental regulations and took up their case with the government’s pollution control board, which ultimately shut the site down.

Vivek Maru, CEO at Namati, a nonprofit social enterprise focused on legal empowerment, visited the village in December 2018. “We can feed our kids now without the bauxite masala on top,” Maru said, quoting one of the women he spoke with on his visit. “I don’t feel as afraid as I used to now that I know there is law on my side.”

Maru, whose vision is to put the power of law in the hands of the people, shared this story at a recent event at Stanford University that brought funders and others together to discuss how to support people-centered justice models.

With the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 16, funders and implementers focused on access to justice were thrilled to see the issue become part of the international development agenda. But funding has not followed, and in fact — based on numbers from a new report by the Task Force on Justice — the global justice system fails more people now than it did before.

Read the article in full on Devex.