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Grassroots Legal Empowerment and Social Movements Partnership to Close the Justice Gap for the Urban Poor in West Africa

Across West Africa, high poverty rates, rapid urbanization, and tenuous democracy make growing cities a major site for confrontations over development. Urban poor populations are at the forefront of these confrontations over land and economic development, dealing with such challenges as forced eviction, criminalization of the informal economy, and discrimination against migrants.

This project will employ a participatory and comparative approach to analyze and establish the extent to which the legal-empowerment strategies used in the region are transformative and contribute to systems change in favour of marginalized urban poor communities and more inclusive cities. It will be implemented in Nigeria, Benin, and Senegal, in collaboration with grassroots social movements of the urban poor.

Research findings and learning, alongside knowledge exchanges, will contribute to strengthening the effectiveness of civil society organizations in the region to provide legal-empowerment support on pressing justice challenges such as forced eviction, criminalization of the informal economy, and discrimination against urban poor migrants. It is expected that the project will contribute to enhanced agency of vulnerable groups to claim their rights, participate in public decision making, and seek justice. The learning from this research will also be used to (re)shape/inform the agenda and actions of social movements, NGOs, and funders interested in replicating successes and supporting legal-empowerment strategies more effectively.

This project is part of the initiative “Closing the justice gap - a legal empowerment research and learning agenda.” The resulting cohort of projects will cover 12 country case studies in West Africa, East and Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia, and include a regional hub for each of those sub-regions.

Project ID
Project Status
36 months
IDRC Officer
Ramata Thioune
Total Funding
CA$ 798,300.00
Institution Country
Incorporated Trustees of Community Legal Support Initiative

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