Onwards and upwards toward the International Year of Evaluation

2015 has been declared the International Year of Evaluation. This is good news for us. In this post I will try to quantify the work from HiiL’s Measuring & Evaluation team from over the past year. We measured justice in many different places around the world. From The Netherlands to Indonesia, we believe these figures are a great headway towards 2015, the International Year of Evaluation.

We started 2014 with asking more than 4000 people in The Netherlands about their justice needs and experiences. We found that the people in the lowlands most frequently experience consumer problems, disputes with neighbours and disagreements around employment. Our tool for measuring the costs and quality of access to justice shows that the users of justice in The Netherlands expect major improvements on most paths to justice.

Then we proceeded with studying people’s perspective on justice in Yemen. 2014 was not an easy year for the people of this impoverished yet proud and beautiful country. We interviewed many men and women to learn that almost every person had to deal with a serious and impactful justice problem. Land, crime and family matters are amongst the most frequent categories of problems. Our study also shows how the women of Yemen have to cope with numerous justice problems in an environment which provides little access to justice.

Despite the on-going violence in Mali we managed to interview more than 8000 people from all but one province. In this country, people mostly rely on their social and communal networks to seek and achieve justice. Not surprisingly, formal justice institutions and mechanisms play a limited role in the complex justice environment in Mali.

Indonesia was the fourth country where we conducted a major study. Our sample there was limited – only 2400 people from 5 provinces. Therefore, we only draw preliminary findings and seek ways to collect more data. One specific thing about the justice needs in Indonesia is that relatively few people report a legal problem. It is an interesting example of how the social culture, which is based on conflict-avoidance norms and values, is interfering with people’s perceptions about conflict and disputes.

These and a couple of other projects kept us very busy in 2014. For 2015 we want to study justice needs in more societies. This will help us build a global database with data about justice as it has been perceived by end users. Such a database will be a powerful tool for identifying challenges but also for pinpointing paths to justice which deliver justice according to people’s needs and expectations. Because there is no doubt that in 2015 billions of people will still need more justice and fairness in their lives, our work in measuring justice needs will be just as important as ever.