When an individual or group does not receive adequate and satisfatory support to resolve a problem that can be addressed, in part or in total, through legal mechanisms, this results in a legal need that is unmet. Unment legal needs have serious and unacceptable consequences for individuals, communities and community organizations. Systems that entrench inequality, discrimination and exclusion are evolving and will only grow over the next years, with the most implications for underserved communities.
From NEXTGEN Lawyer’s initial target of sex workers and drug users, the unmet legal needs for cohorts of people we need to focus on have and will continue to rise in the years to come. We work in an increasingly challenging and dynamic environment which is driving the rise of legal need, stretching funding and placing legal service organisations like ours under increasing pressure.
A series of local and global crises are reversing decades of progress and threatening lives and livelihoods. Unfair Laws and legal system have serious consequences on people’s ability to maintain relationships, have identities and freely express themselves. The World Justice Project estimates that there are 1.5 billion people who are victims of crime and people with civil and administrative justice needs who face obstacles in resolving these everyday justice issues. About 4.5 billion people lack legal tools that can help them protect their assets and access economic opportunities or public services, to which they have a right. Finally, 253 million people live in extreme conditions of injustice with some being stateless, victims of modern slavery, and people who live in states with high levels of insecurity.
Communities are also battling the effects of health emergencies, climate change, and ongoing conflict on their wellbeing and environment. Not forgeting the rapid pace at which technology is evolving that brings withit both challenges and opportunities which communities have difficulty navigating. Most people may not recognize the legal aspects of their problems and therefore may not take appropriate action. Many more may not know where to go for help, not trust that the available help will work for them or may feel that these problems are an inevitable condition of life for which no help is available.
Today, low-income and socially excluded people face more difficulties than ever before. Criminalized populations; women and girls living in poverty; persons with physical and intelectual disability are most impacted and most in-need of legal assistance. Although much needed, human resource and financial investment in legal assistance, not only in Kenya but globally, remains low.