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To strengthen coordination and networking of LASPs, harmonisation and standardisation of legal aid service provision by the different service providers, lobbying and advocacy to facilitate a favourable legal and policy environment.

LASPNET CONVENES THE 6TH PRE-AGM E-LEARNING SESSION AT THE SECRETARIAT A HEAD OF THE 12TH AGM 2021

The Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET) on 21st October 2021 hosted a successful 6th Pre-AGM E-Learning Session at the Secretariat under the theme: Growing and Sustaining a Resilient Legal Aid Sector.” The session was informed by the Board’s decision to conduct a survey and establish the impact of COVID 19 on provision of Legal Aid in Uganda.

 While presenting her introductory remarks at the E-learning session, the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa applauded participants for sparing time to be part of the discourse on how LASPs can survive amidst the fragile operating environment characterized of COVID 19 lockdown and dwindling financial base.  She informed the meeting that on annual basis LASPNET convenes the pre-AGM meeting specifically to deliberate on topical issues related on Access to Justice and that due to limited funding this year’s Pre-AGM was in form of an E-learning meeting.  

She further averred that the survey findings administered on LASPs revealed due to COVID 19, many LASPs underwent stressful and constraining circumstances coupled with the non-recognition of Legal Services as essential service providers during the lockdown. Additionally, many LASPs experienced a stalemate in activity implementation due to suspension of physical activities.  

More still, from the survey findings, LASPNET selected UGANET to share its success story since its one of the LASPs that managed to remain relevant during the COVID 19 pandemic. In her presentation on How to remain relevant and innovative during the pandemic;” a case of UGANET, Ms. Nayiga Grace, the Head of Legal Aid at UGANET noted that whereas it was a difficult period for the organisation to thrive, the UGANET team leveraged this period to develop innovations aimed at enhancing access to justice for the poor and vulnerable. According to Grace, the only strategy for UGANET during the pandemic was to devise means of working amidst the situation by working with partners petitioning authorities to consider Lawyers as essential workers.

 

Key among the innovations developed and adopted by UGANET during the lockdown include; The rising of Woman Wellness Centre and shelter for GBV Survivors; establishment of the UGANET call centre to address human rights issues as well as an emergency/rescue team to provide act legal, psychosocial support and referrals.

Mrs. Christine Birabwa the CEO of Praxis Conflict Centre Ltd, while deliberating on “How to grow and sustain resilient Legal Aid Service Provision in Uganda”, first re-echoed some few factors mentioned in Grace’s presentation where she requested participants to note down as she re-emphasizes them; such as UGANET was very quick to adjust when Covid struck, they had a soul in their organisation, strong partnerships who believed in them and they were strategically ready for opportunities.

“LASPs have been stuck on two fronts; the coming of Covid-19 with its eventualities such as lockdown and restrictions and the DGF factor that was closed out and those two issues already can collapse an organisation if some have not collapsed already” she said.

She emphasized the fact that change happens and it’s inevitable, donors lose interest, diseases strike and all sorts of things can happen at the same time since there is nothing static and hence a need to adapt to new change. In order to mitigate such eventualities, she advised members to anticipate change and invest in futuristic planning in case things change abruptly.  

 

Ms. Birabwa advised LASPs to be target based and define their audiences if they are to remain relevant. She also underscored the role of partnerships in enhancing synergies and reducing on duplication. Relatedly, she recommended that LASPs should leverage social media and showcase their work which would eventually bring them donors and philanthropists.  

 

Delivering her vote of thanks, the moderator of the day, Ms. Sheila Muwanga in a special way appreciated the panelists for the informative and energetic presentation. She added that the

presentation was more of a tool kit where everybody can soul search for themselves and understand the level of resilient in an organisation.

 

The session was crowned off by Mr. Arthur Nsereko the Board Chairperson who appreciated all members for attending the session and encouraged them to pick lessons for improved service delivery amidst the challenging times.

 

 “As s members, it would prudent to give testimonies in future that that following the Pre-AGM E-Learning engagement of 2021, I was able to implement this and it has actually worked for us” he concluded.

By and large, the Pre-AGM E-Learning was successful and well attended by LASPNET members who utilized the learning platform to discuss on matters raised during presentations

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