IFES BRIDGE facilitators implemented a two-day Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) Election Administration and Management workshop for 20 people on August 30 and 31, 2017. The training was attended by 15 IFES headquarters staff, as well as representatives from Elections Canada, International IDEA, US Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and United Nations Elections Assistance Division (UNEAD).
IFES offers periodic BRIDGE trainings for staff to provide an opportunity to increase their technical knowledge on topics related to IFES’ work, as well as to learn more about how BRIDGE can be used in support of IFES’ programs. IFES also invited external participants as a way to broaden the impact of the training, to promote connections between and among donors and implementers, and to bring a variety of perspectives to the training.
The facilitators incorporated lessons learned from previous in-house BRIDGE trainings, minimizing the number of lectures and emphasizing iterative discussions. Interactive group activities allowed facilitators and participants to approach the material from a practical and hands-on perspective, as well as provided participants a way to and learn from one another through leveraging the varied knowledge and skillsets in the group.
The first day of the workshop focused primarily on the functions, structures, roles, and responsibilities of election management bodies (EMBs). As one of the most common and also most central stakeholders in an electoral process, EMBs often play a critical but not well-understood role in the success or failure of an electoral process. Topics addressed included types and responsibilities of EMBs, the roles of EMBs in election management and stakeholder engagement, civic education opportunities for EMBs, and ended with a group activity requiring participants to design an EMB for a fictional country. The second day of the training drilled down into a more detailed discussion of related election administration and management topics, including the electoral cycle and calendar, risk management and planning, and the importance of international networks of electoral practitioners.
Although participants came from a variety of professional backgrounds and levels of experience ranging from two months to 20 years, the training enabled participants to learn from the material and from each other. More than 70% of participants indicated an increase in knowledge, and pre- and post-training test scores showed a marked increase in knowledge among most participants; all but one participant found the training to be either very or somewhat useful for their work needs. As one participant said, "I thought it was a great overview. I didn’t expect to do so much creative/interactive work and I loved it."
The workshop was organized and led by Rushdi Nackerdien (South Africa, accrediting facilitator), Ambar Zobairi (USA, fully-accredited facilitator), Eric Hodachok (USA, fully-accredited facilitator), and Suzanne Abdallah (USA, fully-accredited facilitator).