A sustainable and strategic approach to BRIDGE In Cape Verde

Cape Verde Islands - A sustainable and strategic approach to BRIDGE by transnational project in support of ACP Portuguese Speaking Countries (Pro PALOP-TL)05-09 December 2011 – Strategic Planning Module, 12-16 December 2011 – Voters' Registration Module, 02-09 May 2012 – Polling, Counting & Results Module.

Cape Verde Islands – A sustainable and strategic approach to BRIDGE by transnational project in support of ACP Portuguese Speaking Countries (Pro PALOP-TL)05-09 December 2011 – Strategic Planning Module, 12-16 December 2011 – Voters’ Registration Module, 02-09 May 2012 – Polling, Counting & Results Module.

August 2011 presidential elections in Cape Verde provided the opportunity to Cape Verde EMBs and the Pro PALOP-TL to start putting into practice a carefully designed a capacity development programme using BRIDGE as its main tool. This strategy is being developed in all ACP Portuguese speaking countries, with Cape Verde Islands and Mozambique setting the tone.

In Cape Verde, presidential elections served as an excellent baseline to a solid lessons learned exercise using BRIDGE Strategic Planning Module, back to back with the Voters’ Registration Module, run in December 2011.

The modules were delivered in Portuguese on the basis of translated Facilitators’ Notes (FNs) customized and tailored to target real needs of the EMBs and relevant electoral stakeholders in Cape Verde, as well as the shortcomings identified during August Presidential elections.

Electoral Officials from the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Government Directorate responsible for organizing electoral processes (DGAPE), all previously semi-accredited as BRIDGE Workshop Facilitators, were leaded by accrediting facilitator Fabio Bargiacchi (Pro PALOP-TL Team), accredited facilitators Ricardo Godinho Gomes (Pro PALOP-TL Team) and Elba Pires (NEC) to customize the modules aiming at:

1. Adapting the Agenda and module contents to the legal framework and EMBs identified priority entry points to tackle main challenges emerged from the electoral process in August 2011;

2. Allow EMBs, with the contribution of key CSO representatives, to set the way forward through inclusive strategic planning exercise;

3. Prepare EMBs’ officials for voters’ registration process for the upcoming local elections scheduled for July 2012 aiming to improve results of previous electoral cycle;

4. Allow semi-accredited workshop facilitators, also EMB trainers, to co-facilitate the modules through 4-days workshops and gain experience as BRIDGE workshop facilitators, master and start mainstreaming BRIDGE facilitation techniques in their training.

Around 40 participants from EMBs (with particular emphasis to regional officials) and CSO platform dealing with electoral processes benefited from the workshops. Participants were consensual and categorical in appraising BRIDGE methods and techniques as an added value and extremely useful tool to the work they are expected to deliver. Most of them, particularly the regional electoral officials representing the decentralized structures of the EMBs, explicitly refer that “the expected autonomy of their attributions and functions were now effectively strengthened due their participation in the workshop modules”. Later on, in March 2012, DGAPE informed that VR process registered an increase in coverage and attributed these improvements to the trainings.

The December workshops were co-facilitated by Ricardo Godinho Gomes, Elba Pires and other 6 Capeverdian semi-accredited BRIDGE workshop facilitators (Arlinda Chantre, Margarete Tavares, Cleyton Soares, Leonel Tavares, Agnelo Ramos and Justino Miranda), closely monitored by Fabio Bargiacchi. Following the Pro PALOP-TL strategy to enhance south-south collaboration and exchanges, Alberto Nandja, one electoral official from STAE Mozambique (Technical Secretariat in responsible for the organization of electoral processes), BRIDGE semi-accredited workshop facilitator, was fully accredited in Cape Verde.

The semi-accredited workshop facilitators were fully accredited by Fabio Bargiacchi and Ricardo Godinho Gomes have become an accrediting facilitator during the delivery of these modules.

NEC President a.i., Manuel Miranda, stated in the closing ceremony that “BRIDGE is having effective impact as one of the most significant catalysts of the change dynamics aimed by the EMBs strategic goals”.

Continuing this strategy, during the first 2 weeks of May 2012, Pro PALOP-TL supported the NEC in Cape Verde to customize and deliver a 3-day Workshop on Polling, Counting and Results. The customization was conducted by accredited BRIDGE workshop Facilitators from NEC and DGAPE, Elba Pires and Arlinda Chantre, closely monitored by Ricardo Godinho Gomes (Accrediting facilitator from Pro PALOP-TL Team).

Once again, translated BRIDGE Module on Polling, Counting & Results was used as baseline to tailor a 3-day Agenda in order to address and tackle issues emerging from electoral poll and results counting in Cape Verde electoral legal framework and EMBs procedures. The main targets were:

1. Gather ToT in the same learning environment to address most “problematic issues” using BRIDGE techniques and methods to enhance their capacities and, use the opportunity, for a BRIDGE show case;

2. Identify and clarify potentially unclear procedures and set the approach to deal with these cases, using BRIDGE inclusive and participative approach;

3. Strengthen the capacities of the ToT.

Sansy Moreno and Serafina Alves, two of the Capeverdian semi-accredited workshop facilitators, were accredited through the successful facilitation of the module. They were fully supported by accredited facilitators Elba Pires and Arlinda Chantre, all of them monitored by Ricardo Godinho Gomes throughout the curriculum development and rollout of the module.

Throughout the 3 days, participants written evaluations and testimony providing feedback on the previous working day were unanimous classifying BRIDGE as a very powerful and revealing method to transfer skills in electoral administration. Most of the participants, mainly electoral officials, express interest in benefiting from the BRIDGE TtF workshop as soon as the opportunity presents.

Even though recognizing that BRIDGE will not replace the polling ToT on the short run, all participants acknowledge that the methods used were revealing and very efficient in bringing forward the main constrains and challenges affecting their work. While preparing to return to their respective islands, participants were certain of taking in the luggage back effective solutions to real problems found through consultative and inclusive problem solving based discussions. And they were firm: more is needed!

As Rushdi Nackerdien, Electoral Leadership institute, put it so well in his article for the number 6 Bridge Facilitator Bulletin, the Pro PALOP-TL is contributing to the praised change in BRIDGE strategy by increasing the number of African and Africa based fully accredited facilitators and widen the amplitude of delivered modules in those regions.

The Pro PALOP-TL is geographically concentrated on strengthening electoral processes and institutions in Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé e Principe, and Timor Leste.

The project is fully funded by the EU with 6.1 million EURO, implemented by UNDP through a project management unit based in Guinea Bissau.

Article by Ricardo Godinho Gomes, Elba Pires and Arlinda Chantre.

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