Learning Exchange: Paralegal Program Development in South Africa

“The Namati Learning Exchange Program is such a powerful program that one could never miss. I learned various community empowerment techniques, community engagement techniques, sustainability and various methods to access justice and rights. As a learning exchange participant, I was able to identify a unique perspective of legal empowerment approaches to bring back to my office and added value to my work.”
Nondo Nobel Bwami
Asylum Access, Tanzania


My visit to the community advice centers based in Limpopo and Gauteng provinces in South Africa made me realize the effectiveness and the importance of the work paralegals do to address the societal, economic and political challenges that communities face around them. The paralegal’s giving testimonies of the voluntary work, the commitment to deliver justice and the desire to bring happiness to a client’s face is what drives the volunteer paralegals to report to their offices every day.”
Faith Ochieng
Kituo Cha Sheria, Kenya


“The Namati exchange was an intensive class where I learnt a lot of things in short time! My thanks go to Namati team and its partners for opportunity offered to me to learn new things and be able to work for promotion and sustainability of paralegals work in great lakes region.”  
Juves Tchiamala
Lawyers of Hope, Rwanda

The first learning exchange was held in April 2015 and hosted by the National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices (Nadcao), based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The three Network members who participated were from the organizations Lawyers of Hope Rwanda, Asylum Access Tanzania and Kituo cha Sheria (Legal Advice Centre) in Kenya.

The participants accompanied Nadcao staff on site visits to interview paralegals in eight community advice offices and held in-depth discussions with national legal aid groups, research institutes, legal advocacy organizations and donors to discuss the history, development and experience of community paralegals across South Africa. The conversations covered a wide range of topics, from details of case management to building trust within the local community; participants compared advocacy strategies and shared notes on the challenges of paralegal retention. Based on these discussions and direct observation, all of the participants developed work plans in order to translate what they learned into practice within the communities where they work.

For more information about our learning exchanges, please contact exchanges@namati.org, or visit the learning exchange page here.