BRIDGE in the Kalandula Waterfalls – Angola

Angolan election administrators gathered nearby the lush cliffs of the Kalandula waterfalls to learn about elections management last month, as part of a USAID-funded training program led by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

The two workshops were offered in the framework of an ongoing technical assistance program to the Comissão Nacional Eleitoral (CNE) of Angola and took place in the province of Malanje, home of one of Africa’s largest and most scenic waterfalls. The workshops drew upon the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections curriculum (BRIDGE), the comprehensive professional development course designed by and for election administrators.

In a constructive sharing of regional experiences, the Angolan trainings were conducted by fellow African Lusophone electoral administrators from Mozambique. The two seminars were facilitated by Cesar Perreira da Silva and Gilberto Castro, two senior officials from Secretariado Técnico de Administração Eleitoral (STAE) Mozambique which just organized the general elections on October 28, 2009. This permitted to the two BRIDGE facilitators to share their experiences and the main challenges that they faced with their counterparts of CNE Angola.

The first workshop on Electoral Management engaged the 18 Presidents of Provincial Electoral Commissions (CPEs), with some key staff from CNE headquarters. During the second training, IFES worked with 18 provincial Chiefs of Operations during a training workshop focused on Operations Management. The first workshop was held in Kalandula from November 13-14 and the second took place in the city of Malanje on November 16-17, 2009.

Training topics were carefully designed to suit the immediate needs of the two target groups and the local context in Angola. The seminars agenda combined broad topics from the BRIDGE Introduction Module with hands-on practical exercises focused on Electoral Administration and Operations Management challenges. In preparation for the seminar, IFES translated many materials from the pre-election module into Portuguese, which will be available on www.bridge-project.org.

Highly engaged and enthusiastic through the two workshops, the participants appreciated the BRIDGE methodology and the participatory training approach. In evaluations, participants almost universally recommended that the BRIDGE program should be continued, with even more practical exercises and case studies based on the challenges that they face on a daily basis.

The two BRIDGE workshops definitely fostered relationships between STAE Mozambique and CNE Angola by sharing experiences; and deepening the confidence building between IFES and the two institutions for the development of other BRIDGE workshops in the Portuguese speaking world.

 

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