Focus on: Training Units
August 18, 2009
Planning for Evaluation
August 18, 2009

The involvement of the client or implementing organisation as an integral partner to the needs assessment (and subsequent program design) is an important investment in the building of capacity and ownership of the program. Experience has shown that BRIDGE programs are most effective when they are carefully tailored to the needs of participants; and this can be effectively achieved by developing and delivering them in partnership with local bodies that can contribute to and/or drive the customisation process.  Potential partners include the following types of bodies:

  • The country’s EMB, which may wish to nominate staff to take part in the program, but which may also be involved in defining the objectives and tailoring the delivery of the program, as well as in supplying facilitators or translators, providing venues, assisting with the translation and production of materials, and, generally, providing logistical support. In more established democracies, some EMBs may choose to use BRIDGE as part of their staff professional development program – Australia, for instance, has conducted BRIDGE modules in almost all of its States and Territories – or in the context of an electoral reform program.
  • Local bodies separate from the EMB, but involved as stakeholders in democracy development or electoral reform. They may be prepared to sponsor programs and/or provide the sort of support EMBs can also provide.
  • International organisations, regional organisations of EMBs, or governments/bodies involved in the provision of assistance relating to elections or democratic development. Such organisations may again be able to sponsor programs or contribute participants or facilitators, or both. Where an organisation of this type has been given responsibility for coordinating international electoral assistance in a country, entering into an effective partnership or cooperative arrangement with it will be particularly important.
  • Donor organisations that may be prepared to provide funding or support in kind (for example, use of premises).

Partnerships may be developed in various ways. In the first instance, EMBs in emerging democracies that are liaising with donors and receiving funds for electoral assistance may be introduced to the notion of using BRIDGE when discussing the type of assistance they require. As arrangements become more defined, a number of different bodies may form a consortium to deliver the program, with different partners making different contributions. Under such a model, it is important that respective responsibilities and spheres of action be clearly defined and understood. Alternatively, a single local agency may be developed as a partner in the delivery of a program. Again, it is important that responsibilities be clearly understood.

Choice of partners will depend on what potential partner organisations have to offer, as well as on the context in which the program is to be delivered. If, for example, the latter is to be but one element of a larger capacity building project being managed by a particular assistance provider, it would normally be essential to determine precise objectives in the light of broader capacity-building aims, and to involve that assistance provider in the planning of the program from the outset.

Choice of implementation approaches will depend on a number of factors. Potential partners, in considering when and how much they want to commit to any BRIDGE project, might benefit from a gradualist approach to implementation.

In certain circumstances it may be better to take small incremental steps, rather than committing large funds to a large project. Program organisers may prefer to proceed in a non-prescriptive and indeed non-threatening manner – minimising losses (of face and money) – should an ambitious project not eventuate or proceed. If an organisation shows initial interest, but is not in a position to commit to a large project, it could be encouraged to send some key personnel to attend a BRIDGE workshop out-of-country before embarking on its own in-country showcase and/or a Train the Facilitator program, and certainly before developing and/or translating materials.

Familiarisation and expectation management

BRIDGE content and, in particular, BRIDGE methodology are still relatively new to many in the elections community. Methods for advocating and explaining BRIDGE to decision-makers include the following:

  • pointing to the BRIDGE website
  • providing explanatory leaflets or notes, preferably in the local language
  • providing relevant samples of materials from the Facilitators Notes and Participants Notes;
  • showing videos and/or photos of the conduct of BRIDGE in other countries – testimonials are powerful tools to build an intuitive understanding of how capacity development works in practice
  • setting up meetings with counterparts in other countries or organisations who have had experience with BRIDGE
  • conducting BRIDGE activities at regional meetings or conferences, or using activity-based methodology for the conduct of conferences or workshops in order to promote the methods that characterise BRIDGE
  • inviting officials from an interested country or organisation to witness or participate in the implementation of BRIDGE elsewhere
  • conducting specially customised demonstrations specifically targeting the country or organisation in question

The use of short BRIDGE programs that exemplify BRIDGE content, materials and methodology – ‘showcasing’ – exposes decision-makers to relevant aspects of the project and can be a useful tool for giving them a better and more informed understanding of the benefits they can derive from BRIDGE. If the client audience has a clear understanding of what BRIDGE is it will make the job of the implementer a great deal easier. Refer to 3.4 Focus On: Showcasing BRIDGE for more information.

Negotiating with clients

During and after scoping, discussions will need to take place between the BRIDGE representatives and the clients, implementing organisations, and any donors. These should always reinforce and clarify the elements of the project in order to manage the expectations of both the latter.

When negotiating with clients, the following approaches have shown themselves to be useful.

  • Consulting extensively with the EMB and, in some cases, political parties – in order to create the political will for BRIDGE to be implemented. This may involve creating a ‘buzz’ by exchanging views with other senior or strategic staff, in particular on the benefits they will derive from BRIDGE.
  • Conducting a needs analysis – establishing a checklist of what is needed and for whom, determining the time frame (short-term versus long-term), and the focus of the program (operational training versus professional development).
  • Managing expectations – double-checking what can be offered in the available time frame and whether that is consistent with what the clients believe they are going to get.
  • Setting realistic targets collaboratively – It usually pays to be modest rather than over-ambitious. An appreciation of the extent of local capacity to support reform is also essential. If capacity is low, rapid reform will not be sustainable.
  • Ascertaining critical elements for all parties – key factors on which to focus are the timetable, money, and personnel.

Negotiating with donors

When negotiating with donors, concentration on the following points is likely to be necessary.

  • Co-ordination of administrative and financial responsibilities, where more than one donor organisation is involved.
  • Adequate badging and recognition – including ensuring visibility of donors’ logos.
  • An emphasis on BRIDGE’s capacity-development focus – this dovetails with donors preference for projects that are low risk, low cost and high profile.
  • Providing donors with a copy of the products associated with the workshops, such as participant handbooks.
  • Inviting them to the opening and closing of the workshop.
  • Supplying donors with regular updates on developments (successes, evaluations and feedback) and on any changes to the project.
  • Showing both flexibility and realism.

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