Evaluation of the organisational structure and functioning of the Juridical and Administrative Guidance Program (PAJA) of ERND
Background: Since 2008 ERND has worked on the PAJA program in partnership with RFN. PAJA’s objective, shared by all of ERND members, is to develop jurisprudence beneficial to the recognition and the protection of local communities.Purpose/objective:The objective is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of PAJA and assess development, progress and results. This will give recommendations for discussions between RFN and ERND on possible needs for improvement.Methodology:The evaluator interviewed the main stakeholders of the programme and the executive secretary during 4 days. It also interviewed former collaborators and RFN members. She furthermore meet and interview the communities impacted by the project in the provinces, the focal points, the lawyers, the paralegals as well as judicial, political and administrative authorities. The two new provinces targeted by PAJA were prioritized during the three weeks mission to the field.Key findings:Organisational structure: The flexibility of the organization is a strength. The work plan has been positively impacted by the different contributions from consultants. There are still weaknesses in the organization, such as the lack of a clear and implemented procedures manual on administration and human resources management. As the project is expanding such systems and procedures must be prioritized.The paralegals, responsible for linking the communities with the Focal points, have been selected in different ways depending on the provinces, and few are still active. ERND has undergone staff changes lately and the institutionalization of in-depth knowledge of all the legal cases in the various provinces has suffered as a result. The same is the case for systematic and close follow-up. It’s important that new staff now focus on this.Communication: Communication systems and routines should be improved. The paralegals often send incomplete and delayed information. This is probably linked to too ambitious work plans and lack of time. The involvement of the network’s focal point is key in sharing the information from the Coordination to the base, and could be reinforced.Prioritizing the court cases: PAJA’s objective is to develop jurisprudence beneficial to the recognition and the protection of local communities. In addition the program works on empowerment of the targeted communities. This means that the Indigenous People are being seen as much as actors as beneficiaries of the program, which may lead to confusion. Criteria for selecting the court cases have been clearly defined, but there is no overview of those cases as the data is incomplete. It appears that some court cases do not fall under the main objective. It is important that the main focus stays clear and that the program does not overextend its efforts. Priorization of activities should be done.The paralegals system: This system enables activities to be close to the communities and raise awareness among them on their rights. The paralegals share information and some of them are highly proactive. The weakness is the written transmission of information, the insufficient number of active paralegals and their localisation, as they are not spread enough on the covered territories. They should be able to travel more in the field, together with the focal points. Capacity-building and closer mentoring should continue to improve.Court cases follow up: Follow-up is done by the focal points and the Coordination. The Coordination also does advocacy work with the administrative authorities and forestry sector. The follow up on the field is not sufficient, and should be reinforced through field investigations and more communication.Recommendations:- Restructure the organization, with clear systems and procedures, in order to enable closer follow up of the Focal Points and Paralegals, precise juridical strategies and better documentation of the court cases- Redefine PAJA’s strategy in order to identify and clarify secondary objectives, such as the empowerment of local communities- Set up regular mechanisms in order to plan, analyse and coordinate regularly the actions carried on all over the three provinces- Add transparency to the budget allocations within the program- Reinforce the paralegals capacities and their follow upComments from the organisation, if any: Nothing additional.