Community Advice Offices (CAOs) are small, community based organisations that offer free basic legal and human rights information, advice and services to people who are marginalised through poverty, social circumstances and geographical location. The National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices (NADCAO) works with approximately 320 CAOs in all nine provinces throughout South Africa.
CAOs have a long history of assisting and mobilising communities that dates back to the apartheid era. In addition to rights-based information, CAOs provide information on a number of areas including social security issues, labour disputes, water, sanitation and housing and educate communities on how and where to access services offered by government departments and agencies. The uniqueness of CAOs also resides in their ability to form long-term partnerships with governmental departments, social agencies and civil society organisations.
CAOs provide access to justice for the poor and marginalised.