Call for Research Proposals
OSIWA, OSJI and the International Development Research Centre
Date Issued: September 18, 2017
Deadline for submission of proposals: October 13, 2017 by 23:59 UTC
Funding Scope and Duration: Up to USD 300,000, for up to 36 months
Call for proposals:
Understanding the Costs and Benefits of Community-based Justice Services in Sierra Leone
Open Society Initiative West Africa (OSIWA), the International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC) and Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) seek research proposals to conduct a study analyzing the costs and benefits of community-based justice services in Sierra Leone. The study will assess and compare the relative direct and indirect outcomes of different justice services measured against the costs of respective interventions. The study will seek to identify innovations in the provision of such services including the use of technology and innovative mechanisms for funding services in Sierra Leone. Based on the cost-benefit analysis, the project will make recommendations on strategies for scaling access to justice and provision of individual and community-oriented legal services in Sierra Leone, with Government, donors and justice service providers and organizations as the main audiences.
Access to justice on questions of family law, including child and spousal support, and property, land and tenancy issues have been identified as priority themes of focus for the project. A priority will be placed on supporting locally-based researchers and research organizations to carry out the research project. Involvement of other national and/or international experts on research teams is encouraged. Proposals should be developed in partnership with community justice providers and describe how research will be informed by, and build on, delivery models.
The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is a Canadian Crown corporation funding research in developing countries to advance knowledge and solve practical development problems. IDRC works with many stakeholders including civil society organisations, think tanks, regional organisations and government departments in the developing world to promote growth, reduce poverty, and drive large-scale positive change. IDRC’s Governance and Justice (G&J) Program supports stronger and more inclusive mechanisms of governance and justice contributing to the development of safer spaces, free from violent conflict and insecurity and assisting to create conditions where vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, can empower themselves to prevent and overcome gender violence.
The Open Society Institute for West Africa (OSIWA) is active in ten countries in West Africa (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal) with offices based in five of them. OSIWA plays a dual role in the region as both an advocate and grant-maker by enabling itself to be agenda-setters both within and alongside other organizations working on the ground. The Foundation works through a unique combination of grant making, advocacy, partnership building, technical assistance and research. For example, OSIWA helps support the production of publications and research studies; run advocacy campaigns using creative means; and provide institutional support to partners on the ground. While most funders either tend to focus exclusively on civil society or governmental institutions, OSIWA has carved its niche through a two-pronged strategic focus: strengthening both democratic institutions and structures and civic participation in decision-making.
Links to the African Centre of Excellence and Global Legal Empowerment Network:
The African Centre of Excellence is a nascent coalition of civil African civil society organizations with founding members from Malawi, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and South Africa. Organizations from these countries have highlighted research as a priority including on legal empowerment, the contribution and position of paralegals as well as gaps between law and legal services delivery. In support of this effort IDRC and OSF seek to bring together exchange on experiences and practice in measuring these issues. While there is likely no generally agreed method of conducting a social and economic cost-benefit analysis, experiences exploring these questions in Sierra Leone, and other countries, could contribute substantially to this emerging field.
The Global Legal Empowerment Network, hosted by the global legal empowerment organization Namati, brings together over a thousand organizations and more than four thousand individuals, all dedicated to grassroots justice. The network promotes mutual learning and includes a growing library of legal empowerment resources. The network campaigns on issues that affect us globally and nationally. The experiences and resources of the network may help enrich the development of this study and is an important avenue for discussion of the methods, process and findings.
Description of the Research Project
We seek research proposals to conduct a study analyzing the costs and benefits of community-based justice services in Sierra Leone focused on issues related to
a) family law, including child and spousal support and
b) legal issues relating to land and property. The study will assess and compare the relative direct and indirect outcomes of different justice services measured against the costs of respective interventions. The study will seek to identify innovations in the provision of such services including the use of technology and innovative mechanisms for funding services in Sierra Leone.
Objectives of the Research:
The overall objective of the study is to contribute to the knowledge base for expanding access to justice across Sierra Leone in a strategic, cost-effective and sustainable manner. In support of that objective, the proposal should outline more specific objectives. Indicative objectives include the following:
1. Develop contextually appropriate research methodologies to analyse the cost-effectiveness and impact of access to justice interventions in Sierra Leone, including developing appropriate definitions of benefits to be measured and related terms such ‘community-based justice services,’ ‘scaling up community-based justice services’ within the context of Sierra Leone and the two priority substantive themes.
2. Document the input costs of providing community-based justice services, in respect to the identified focused justice challenges: a) family law, including child and spousal support and b) legal issues relating to land and property.
3. Determine the direct and indirect the benefits of identified community-based justice services for individuals, communities and the broader public.
4. Determine the costs and benefits of community-based justice service provision for populations in need, in respect to priority themes: a) family law, including child and spousal support and b) legal issues relating to land and property.
5. Identify relevant recommendations and roadmap for scaling access to justice, with a focus on guidance to Government and donors for funding community-based justice services addressing a) family law, including child and spousal support and b) legal issues relating to land and property.
Scope of the Research:
In pursuit of the above objectives, the research team should articulate a strategy to use existing sources of data and propose a methodology for new data collection:
1. Review of existing data and research from legal assistance and community-based justice service providers and researchers: a plan for identifying and collecting existing data from targeted service-providers on identified themes and service interventions (e.g. paralegal programs, strategic litigation, mediation, etc.). Potential data points include:
Results and experiences of the OSIWA Legal Needs Survey. The results of existing legal needs surveys could be a helpful starting point, for helping target research priorities and, later, to potentially help track changes of needs over time.
2· Identify sources of data on social impacts of justice problems: The proposal should articulate methods to help quantify the social impacts of the two identified categories of legal problems (e.g. health, education or lost opportunities for children in spousal support disputes or health and economic impacts for communities affected by land dispossession). Here, an initial task could be determining what existing data exists that could help determine possible benefit by avoiding additional social problems through legal support. More specific tasks could include:
3· Propose specific methodologies to meaningful capture the cost-effectiveness and impact of access to justice interventions in Sierra Leone.
4· Project team and governance:
The proposal should describe the team composition and division of roles among team members. A priority will be placed on teams that are led by, and support capacity of, Sierra Leonean researchers, and that have solid gender balance and expertise. Ideas for drawing on international expertise, to provide guidance and back-stopping support at various stages of the research process are also encouraged. For a research project of this nature, the expectation is that teams will be multi-disciplinary in nature with complementing expertise. Successful proposals will describe how research efforts will be in partnership and informed by the work of front-line community justice providers.
An advisory committee is envisaged for the study, comprised of a variety of stakeholders (e.g. community-based justice service providers participating in the Study, Legal Aid Board, Open Society, IDRC). The main roles of the Committee would be to provide ongoing feedback and support to the researchers on research direction and focus, and ensure buy-in of research and results as they emerge, as main audiences to carry forward research results and integrate into future programming efforts.
The main deliverables for the Study should be outlined in the study proposal, with timelines. Indicative deliverables could include:
1. An inception report within an agreed amount of time from the start of the contract, which would more fully explain partnerships, methodologies (including methods, access issues, analysis and reporting schedules), geographic focus, and draft work plan with timetable for study activities.
2. A desk review strategy within an agreed amount of time from the start of the contract focused on community-based legal services in Sierra Leone as well as methods for measuring cost and benefits of non-lawyer interventions.
3. A comprehensive desk review within an agreed amount of time from the start of the contract of research focused on community-based legal services for each community.
4. A draft of various research instruments and roadmap for carrying out supplemental data collection in identified areas.
5. A technical convening in Sierra Leone for researchers studying the costs, benefits and outcomes of legal empowerment programs in Africa more broadly.
6. By an agreed date, a draft analysis of different dimensions of research.
7. By an agreed date, a draft report with sections covering each dimension of research to be presented to and discussed by IDRC, Open Society and partners, including government and civil society service providers.
8. By an agreed date, an indicative communications strategy to extend the reach of dissemination and uptake of research results.
9. By an agreed date, incorporate feedback from dissemination activities and prepare a final report for IDRC, Open Society and partners, including government and civil society service providers.
We are committed to supporting gender transformative research. We expect the proposals to demonstrate a clear understanding of gender dimensions of the research problem, through the integration of sex and gender analysis and understanding of gender differences in the research and activities. It should also provide great visibility to women’s contributions and experiences.
Proposed budgets should not exceed USD 300,000 including all expenses, spread over the three-year project duration. That total will include some expenses, to be discussed with OSIWA and IDRC, for participation in cross-country or global learning exchanges related to this research.
Organizations are invited to submit a Cover Letter (signed by a signing authority) and 12-15 page proposal, no later than October 13, 2017. The proposal should include a description of how the proposing research team intends to achieve the objectives and deliverables of the project described above. At a minimum proposals should include the following elements:
To achieve greater impact the research will be expected to participate in a series of joint activities, once or twice a year, targeting regional or global processes. Those activities will be identified and led by the research team, IDRC, and Open Society and will be included with research activities and budgets.
Evaluation and Selection Criteria:
Proposals will be assessed on the basis of the following experience and competencies. Projects that are not selected, in the first round, may be kept for a possible second round of funding, if applicable.
Knowledge and Experience 25%
Suitability of research team and institution(s), based on a description of roles and responsibilities, including clear evidence of:
Gender Analysis Skills 25%
Strong understanding of and ability to apply a gender lens to research related to vulnerable groups in general and women in particular
Policy Uptake/Knowledge Translation 10%
Research Merit 25%
Demonstrated logic between the different stages of the research process, solid methodology and research design
Primary considerations in selecting projects are the research proposal’s scientific merit and potential for development impact, including capacity building. In addition, each proposal will be subject to IDRC’s and Open Society’s respective internal procedures, risk management processes and related restrictions for operating and supporting programming in different country contexts. IDRC does not make grants for basic operating expenses, endowments, or facilities for individual school districts, colleges, universities or human services organizations. It does not generally make grants to individuals, or make program-related investments. No curriculum projects within individual schools or colleges are supported. In addition, this call is purposely limited to selected institutions, and IDRC and Open Society reserve the right to reject proposals from institutions not directly targeted.
Finalization of grant:
Please note that the technical selection of a proposal does not guarantee that it will be funded by IDRC and Open Society.
a. Proposal finalization – Prior to finalizing a Grant Agreement, OSIWA, IDRC and OSJI reserve the right to request any revisions to the submitted proposal. A revised proposal with the necessary revisions must be returned in a timely manner.
b. Administrative Finalization – Administrative considerations must also be satisfactory. OSIWA and IDRC will provide relevant guidance on applicable administrative processes during grant finalization process.
c. Country clearance requirements – IDRC has conducted general agreements for scientific and technical cooperation with a number of governments. These agreements establish the framework for IDRC cooperation with that country by defining the rights and obligations of both IDRC and the government. As such, the applicant institution may be required to obtain country approval in accordance with these agreements prior to receiving funding from IDRC. This requirement applies only for selected applications. IDRC reserves the right to not pursue the funding of a selected project if the country approval is not secured within six months after IDRC officially announces approval of the project, as this would jeopardize the timely completion of the initiative.
Any selected proponents shall be required to sign standard grant agreements with both OSIWA and IDRC. Furthermore, OSIWA and IDRC reserve the right to cancel the process at any time without prior notice and/or at its discretion to grant all or none of the awards under this process.
Permission for use and disclosure of information:
By way of submitting an application under this Call for competitive grants, the applicant consents to the disclosure of the documents submitted by the applicant to the reviewers involved in the selection process, both within OSIWA, IDRC, OSJI and externally. The applicant further consents to the disclosure of the name of the applicant, the name of the lead researcher and the name of the proposed project, in any announcement of selected proposals.
All personal information collected by IDRC about grant, scholarship and fellowship applicants is used to review applications, to administer and monitor awards, and to promote and support international development research in Canada and in the regions where IDRC operates. Consistent with these purposes, applicants should expect that information collected by IDRC may come to be used and disclosed in IDRC supported activities.
 For reference, funds from IDRC flowing to third country and to Canadian Institutions are subject to General IDRC Funding Guidelines. IDRC’s standard format and eligible costs for budgets can be found in the “Application for an IDRC Research Grant,” and are subject to IDRC’s Travel Policy and Per Diem rates. IDRC also encourages open access to data and final research outputs through its Open Access policy.