(see also 1.3 BRIDGE as a Professional Development Tool)
As a component of electoral assistance programming, BRIDGE should not be seen as a ‘sand-alone’ feature but as a cross cutting capacity development tool with the ability to value-add in each assistance area.
BRIDGE workshops integrate well with technical assistance programs in the earlier design and consultation phases of an electoral assistance program, and then periodically as a tool for reflection and analysis. BRIDGE workshops can serve as an effective launch activity for corresponding thematic sub-components of a broader technical assistance program. For instance, a voter registration technical assistance phase could be initiated by a customised implementation of the Voter Registration module with a registration specialist serving as an expert for the training alongside BRIDGE facilitators. As participants, the EMB staff and relevant stakeholders build confidence and knowledge about the upcoming voter registration process, the specialist gains an understanding of the local situation, and the relationships fostered between both parties could help to ensure that the success of subsequent technical assistance.
Much as it does with other stakeholders, the BRIDGE workshop can be used as a dialogue tool to build mutual understanding and trust between the technical assistance program and client. Broad substantive relationships between the staff of both institutions, and deeper understanding of the real problems faced by both institutions, can lead to greater trust between the technical assistance program and the EMB, more effective program design, and eventually more successful implementation.
The periodic implementation of BRIDGE modules throughout a technical assistance program can provide unique avenues for reflection and assessment away from the normal relationships and operational priorities. This integrated, consultative, reflective approach is in line with the recommendations on electoral assistance outlined by the European Commission and UNDP.2
Specific examples of electoral assistance and capacity development programs in which BRIDGE can be used an integrated or complementary tool are:
BRIDGE programs are ideally developed following the 10 principles established by UNDP Policy Group on Capacity Development:
|UNDP’s 10 Default Principles for Capacity Development
Source: UNDP, Ownership, Leadership and Transformation, NY (2003), p. 13.
Sustainability & Capacity Development
The BRIDGE activity-based methodology uses an approach that maximizes retention of knowledge and skills learned in the workshop. On the individual level, the impact of a BRIDGE program lasts well beyond the program in terms of confidence, sense of professional identity, skills and knowledge directly applicable to work, ethics, and access to networks. The BRIDGE philosophy is that through professional development, individual participants are in turn empowered to affect organizational and systemic reform.
Evidence of success of a BRIDGE program in terms of sustainability, that is, if one was to visit an institution where a comprehensive BRIDGE program had been run 5 or 10 years earlier could be:
Obviously, the level of expectation would have to be commensurate with the scale and quality of the original intervention. Factors that will affect the impact of a BRIDGE program are the extent of national ownership; the responsiveness and relevance of the programs; and the appropriate fit with a wider electoral assistance programming.