Legal Hub Uganda wins HiiL Innovating Justice Challenge 2019: Reflections and Lessons
“And the winner is ….. Legal Hub Uganda”
With those words, what started off as a Facebook comment had emerged “The justice solution with the most inspiring pitch, and the most promising case for impact and sustainability” in the HiiL Innovating Justice Challenge 2019! held at Kabira Country Club on 31st October 2019.
How it all began…
Sometime this year, we uploaded a recording of one of the radio programmes we had featured in on Google Drive and shared the link on our Facebook page. We noticed the reach was increasing and then one of the ‘Top Fans’ suggested in a comment that we could develop podcasts on various legal issues and share with our audience. Lesson 1: Start with what you have.
At first, it sounded like a tall order but after some basic research, coupled with responses from our 2019 Legal Needs Assessments Survey carried out in parts of Teso, Karamoja and greater Kampala, we realized that this could be a feasible idea. Luckily, we already had established a radio relationship and had audio recordings from our radio engagements. We created an account on SoundCloud and shared on our several platforms. We received positive feedback from radio listeners and online users. That was it!!! Lesson 2: Leverage on existing partnerships
Then comes HiiL…
As a young organization, Legal Hub Uganda was constantly searching for partnerships that can strengthen our capacity to grow into an impact-driven and innovative legal aid service provider. Upon seeing the HiiL Innovating Justice 2019 Call for Applications, we agreed to give it a shot. We were convinced our idea was scalable, sustainable, cost-effective and innovative. Lesson 3: Scout for all relevant opportunities
Imagine having a radio programme that you can pause, rewind or listen to at your convenience? What of having recordings of various legal topics just at your fingertips, anytime, anywhere? Sounds good? We’re sure it does. When Legal Hub Uganda conducted a Needs Assessment Survey in May 2019, what came out clearly was that radio remains the most used platform of accessing legal information for the poor and vulnerable people across the country.
But radio has some challenges for legal aid service providers. Top on this list is financial constraints that require purchasing airtime. On average, a one hour show upcountry is about one million shillings. If you’re a Kampala-based organization without physical presence in the districts of operation, it means you must facilitate your staff to travel up-country. This will require per diem, fuel, car maintenance, among other costs. So, for a one hour talk show, an organization could spend about two million shillings in total. In this era of shrinking budgets, this is not feasible.
What of the listeners, is radio the magic bullet? Not necessarily. Some legal awareness programmes are held at a time when some members of the household are doing care work, at school or in the spending the evening away with friends over a pot of local brew. Even in the ideal situation that all household members are present, there could be competing interests within the household on what to listen to or, the radio stations could be broadcasting the English Premier League at that moment. This would be a missed opportunity for the legal aid service provider that has invested in the programme. Lesson 4: Identify and existing gap
Think of an internet radio. One, which with a little data, you can stream on your device. That’s basically a podcast. It’s one of the innovative, cost-effective and accessible means of reaching out to those in need of legal information. In the past, it has been used a lot for evangelization and commercials.
What would this mean for the justice sector? For the legal aid service providers, you cut out all the logistical costs associated with radio. Podcasts are easy to make and require little set-up costs. Most importantly, they can be scaled. Well-produced podcasts can be shared with local radio stations to broadcast at a minimal cost. For the listeners, podcasts have a long shelf-life and can be stored and thus accessible anytime one needs them. Those with internet access can download and share with their friends via Bluetooth at no cost. Lesson 5: Solve the identified problem
The team at Legal Hub Uganda put in lots of effort to explore how this should happen. With friends in the digital spaces, we came up with a dissemination strategy that caters for both online and offline audiences. Drawing synergies from friends, allies and well-wishers over a cup of coffee is exciting.
We hope to take legal information to the last mile
We cannot thank HiiL enough for believing in and supporting Legal Hub Uganda’s dream. And with this, we come to Lesson 6: Apply for the 2020 HiiL Innovating Justice Challenge.