Considering BRIDGE

August 18, 2009

Post-needs assessment activities

Assessment report At the completion of a needs assessment mission, an assessment report should be written, on the basis of which a recommendation on whether or not to go ahead with a BRIDGE program would be made. It might also be necessary to develop concept papers, proposals or strategies to spell out the objectives of a program as it is evolving. Developing appropriate broad objectives Once a client organisation has identified its needs, broad objectives to address these needs must also be identified. These broad objectives will usually be at a conceptual level and may or may not require BRIDGE programs in order to be achieved. Some of these broad objectives may include: A more transparent electoral process A more professional and efficient electoral management body Credible elections Improved relationships between stakeholders BRIDGE should be considered as one of many potential tools to address existing needs and achieve broad objectives. In most cases BRIDGE will be very useful in achieving these objectives, but there may also be occasions when BRIDGE is not appropriate. Because there may be a discrepancy between the needs as expressed by the client organisation and those identified as a result of the assessment conducted from a BRIDGE perspective, some adjustments and compromises may have to be made. Informing BRIDGE partners and the BRIDGE Office If the needs assessment or the scoping report has recommended that a BRIDGE program is appropriate, and the decision has been made to proceed, all BRIDGE partners should be informed through the BRIDGE Office. The BRIDGE Office and the BRIDGE partners should already have been consulted and informed during the initial planning stages. Throughout the program, all relevant documentation should also be filed appropriately and sent on a regular and agreed basis to the BRIDGE […]
August 18, 2009

Planning for Evaluation

  Assessment – process of estimating the value/quality of something before or during a process/event Evaluation – the process of measuring the amount of something during and/or after a process/event Monitoring – the maintenance of regular surveillance of a process/event Effective evaluation depends on knowing what you are aiming for, what and why you want to evaluate, and what your time and cost restraints are.  There are different kinds of evaluation for different purposes. Evaluation should assist in learning what works well and thereby assist building the capacity and capability of what is being assessed. It should be a process of collecting information to assess the value of any activity and the quality of the program. There are a number of stakeholders who will be expecting feedback on the program – for different reasons, at different times and in different formats: The conduct of a needs assessment will result in certain expected outcomes. Ultimately, once a BRIDGE activity has been designed and implemented, one would return to the needs assessment to measure the success or limited achievement. Funders/donors of the program (and of BRIDGE as a whole) will want to know if the aims and objectives listed in the project proposal underlying their funding have been met (and proof thereof). Funders of the program and project managers will expect financial accounting. The program developers will want feedback on the choices made in compiling the agenda and program curriculum – did it work as envisioned? Participants will want to be reminded of the program objectives and their own expectations on the final workshop day in order to feel satisfaction with the investment of time and energy that they have made. Facilitators will want feedback on their performance. The curriculum designers of the V2 modules will want feedback on the activities, Key Understandings and resources used in order to improve the modules. The BRIDGE Office and BRIDGE partners will want both concrete facts and documentation about the program for statistical and archival purposes, as well as feedback on the success and difficulties of the program in order to improve the BRIDGE Package of services and tools. In the role as program developer or facilitator, meeting these assessments, evaluation and reporting needs will be something to take into consideration in the planning stages. A number of tools are available to help: Needs assessment report and recommendations that will inform the design and implementation phase Program Objectives, as developed in consultation with program stakeholders Key Understandings, Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria specified in the modules that you have chosen, which you will have adapted to your specific program Participant expectations, as described on the first day Games and techniques for evaluation and assessment included in this manual, and in the TtF workshop A workshop administration role assigned either to one of the facilitators or an external person is an invaluable asset, so that the reporting obligations are not forgotten. In addition to the formal and informal assessment and evaluation requirements – there are some guiding questions that should inform all of the decisions made, both during program development and facilitation of the workshop. Are we improving electoral processes? Are we strengthening the confidence and competence of key stakeholders? It is possible that you may not be able to measure these more fundamental questions in numbers or forms – but you will most probably have anecdotal evidence which can also serve a valuable purpose as a way to explain why BRIDGE programs are effective. The most important concept to understand with evaluation and assessment with BRIDGE is that we are assessing the success or otherwise of the program, rather than the success of any individual participants to learn or understand. The assessment tools used in BRIDGE are not designed to pass or fail participants. Planning for evaluation Any BRIDGE program will cost money, and implementers will therefore inevitably have to account to those who are funding them for the way in which the money has been spent, and the benefits which flow from the expenditure. Processes for measuring the impact of a BRIDGE program will therefore invariably need to be developed. This issue can be approached at a number of different levels. An assessment may be: Made on the validity of the needs assessment Made of the short-term or slightly longer-term impact which a program has had on individual participants. This may be based on the participants self-assessments, and/or on the judgement of the facilitators, and/or on the judgements made by their colleagues of the apparent impact which the program has had. Made of the overall success of a program – this can be done by examining evaluations prepared during and immediately after the workshops by participants, the facilitators, and where relevant the recipient organisation. Made of the impact which the use of BRIDGE has had on the way in which the beneficiary organisation does its work. Such an assessment may be done internally by the organisation, but may also take into account judgements made by stakeholders, such as donors, who work with the organisation. Attempted of the impact BRIDGE has had on the state of democratic development in a country. This will normally be exceptionally difficult to judge, since overall democratic development is influenced by myriad factors, of which interventions in the area of electoral capacity-building are only one. The BRIDGE founding partners are clearly committed to the process of continuously improving the product, and feedback from evaluations is a critical resource for them in achieving this objective. However, because the time of the client is precious, the extent and degree of evaluation need to be agreed at the planning stage. The evaluation process involves comparing performance against expectations, and therefore needs to be structured taking agreed outputs or outcomes into account. A clear focus on defining expectations when planning evaluations also helps to ensure that expectations are realistic, and shared by all involved.  This is discussed further in the Facilitators Notes. Evaluation needs to match program objectives (see section 3.1 Setting Program Objectives, below) Evaluation stages Evaluation of a BRIDGE program should take place: at the beginning of the program during and at the end of the workshops. This can include spot checks, informal chats with individuals; observation; feedback or evaluation sheets (open-ended) at the end of the program (after the workshops) a suitable time after the program to assess long term impact The first two stages of the evaluation process have already been covered in previous chapters – pre-program assessment (which determines what the evaluation is measuring against) and monitoring during the workshop (which contributes to the evaluation process). Assuming pre-program assessment and workshop monitoring have been conducted adequately, post-program evaluation should be more of a compilation exercise intended to give an overall view of the implementation of the project and measure its achievements. The impact of the project can be assessed by measuring the competence and skills both of the national authorities and individual participants in dealing with matters covered during the program. Evaluations, if done effectively, comprise several levels and strategies – each targeting different stakeholders with different approaches. Before turning to specific examples of evaluation strategies and questions, we need to clarify exactly what we mean by evaluation. Refer to: 8.5 Annex 5: BRIDGE Evaluation Cycle for a summary of the main elements of evaluation, and things to consider when designing an evaluation process for BRIDGE. […]
August 18, 2009

Building partnerships for delivery

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 […]
August 17, 2009

Focus on: Scoping Missions

Scoping missions should include at least one BRIDGE facilitator with extensive knowledge of BRIDGE. Having an experienced facilitator on the team – preferably one who is likely to be working on the program – is very strongly recommended because this will help to anticipate any problems (logistical, technical, or financial) that might be encountered during implementation. It also helps the facilitator build a relationship with the main stakeholders. A scoping mission typically consists of two components, documentary research section and interview-based engagements. Documentary research is done ahead of a visit to the initiating institution or country, covering/comprising: constitution, electoral law and other relevant legislation previous election results, observer and media reports on electoral issues and disputes previous training activities – reports and plans the organisation’s relationship with its stakeholders (for example political parties and the media, previous international interlocutors) organisational culture. Research can be done by reviewing existing literature (observation reports, media reports, and EMB reports), meeting and speaking with individuals, and using tools such as the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network, IFES and Inter-Parliamentary Union websites. A summary background analysis and briefing package for new team members are typical outputs of the research process. Apart from the client organisation, the mission members should meet with other stakeholders, including: donors; political parties; parliamentarians; relevant department heads; civil society groups; observer groups. Focus groups are a complementary for generating information useful for the assessment. The members of a scoping mission when speaking to client organisations and other interlocutors should, as a minimum, cover the following topics. The nature of BRIDGE: What it is and what it is not.  Discussion should draw on the issues covered in the first section 1. About BRIDGE.  In particular, a distinction should be drawn between BRIDGE as part of a larger electoral assistance project, and as a stand-alone project. Types of BRIDGE: How BRIDGE can be run. Sequencing: The recommended sequence of BRIDGE events in a program should be discussed, always keeping in mind the context in which the program is to be delivered. (See also:  2.3 Focus On – Sequencing)  However, the following guiding principles are suggested: Initial preference be given to conducting a showcase and module workshops to demonstrate BRIDGE Participants of a TtF (Train the Facilitator Workshop) should have participated in at least one BRIDGE module workshop A TtF should only be scheduled if there is a detailed plan to roll out module workshops An Implementation Workshop would only be conducted if a sizeable BRIDGE program is expected Customisation: Refer to 4.  Designing and Customising BRIDGE Workshops Budget: How much is required? How much is available? Where is the money coming from? Who will manage the budget? The potential costs of running a BRIDGE program should be made clear, whether it is donor or client funds that are likely to be the main resource for the program.  The scoping mission should clearly outline the costs of various options for delivery and ensure that client organisations and donors do not have unrealistic expectations of what can be done with limited funding. Refer to: 8.4 Annex 4: Potential Cost Items of a BRIDGE Program for a list of costs to consider   Timing: It would be ideal to conduct BRIDGE in a post-election environment – when the program can be combined with lessons learnt from past elections. Although a pre-election period is not an ideal time to proceed, BRIDGE could be conducted if it were to support other training activities focussing on operations. There is much opportunity for subsequent misunderstanding if the likely influence of operational priorities is not taken adequately into account.  Counterparts may, in good faith, believe that they will be able to balance on the one hand the conduct of BRIDGE programs aimed at long-term capacity-building and, on the other hand, short-term operational needs; but experience in many countries tends to suggest that such balancing is almost impossible, and the operational needs will ultimately take priority. This means that either: BRIDGE programs need to be timed so as not to impinge on operational priorities; or programs need to be customised so that they will clearly contribute to meeting operational needs In the latter case, adequate lead times need to be built into the planning of the program, as customising of materials to a particular country or region is a very worthwhile but also potentially time-consuming process. Minimum conditions: Rules, policies and procedures have been established for conducting BRIDGE.   Refer to 1.3 Focus On: Rules of BRIDGE earlier in the manual for more information. Clear statement of purpose (clear objectives and outcomes): What will the success indicators be and how will the project be evaluated? The outcomes should be clearly spelt out, including a realistic assessment of which of the stated or desired outcomes can be accomplished through training; which outcomes cannot be accomplished through training; which outcomes are not realistic in light of the implementing organisation’s institutional skills and resources. This would clarify right from the start the expectations of the outcomes of any program. Facilitators: The presence of appropriately skilled facilitators is so fundamental to the success of BRIDGE that the scoping process needs to include a quite detailed assessment of whether they are likely to be available.  A range of issues arise in relation to their choice and deployment. These include such things as: Availability: This includes time for preparation as well as the dates of the workshops. If the right facilitators are not available, it is probably best to postpone until they are. The makeup of the team: Is there gender balance? Do they have the right sorts of technical expertise? Do they have the required language skills? Is there a suitably qualified facilitator available to coordinate and accredit any facilitators who are to be accredited? Participants: Who will they be?  It should be kept in mind that the intention of the program is to enhance professional skills, rather than create those skills.  For participants to get the most benefit from the program they should: be motivated individuals, committed to the democratic process; be willing to share information, and to assist in the setting up of national training programs; and be willing to participate in the evaluation and further design of the program. It is here too, that it should be made clear that for BRIDGE to be most useful, numbers of participants should be kept to 25 or below. The following specific questions could be asked of the client organisation: What plan does the organisation have for providing training and/or professional development opportunities? What past training needs analysis or training courses have been done? How many people does this involve? What proportion are women? What are the resources (e.g. facilities) available to support the training program throughout the country? Are the rules and regulations for conducting an election in the country ready and available? How adequate are the knowledge and skills in the country to allow the running of an election that meets basic standards, such as transparency, reliability or cost effectiveness? How satisfied are the stakeholders for each of the electoral stages conducted in the country? Training needs analysis: If the client organisation has not completed a training needs analysis, the project team may have to conduct one as part of their scoping mission, so as to determine to what extent BRIDGE is adequate for covering such needs.  This may also require an auditing of the educational policies (staff development practices) of the organisation.  A comprehensive training needs analysis may need to be undertaken before or in conjunction with a BRIDGE program (if this is the imperative of the country). Recognition and acknowledgement: Due recognition is vitally important for building support for and ownership of BRIDGE. It should be borne in mind from the outset that a successful BRIDGE program is likely to be the work of many hands. Materials developed locally should clearly acknowledge, both on the cover and within, the BRIDGE Partner Organisations, the sources of the materials, the funding agency or agencies, the implementing agency or agencies, and other contributions (including of individuals) to the materials and to the project itself. Details of how this can best be done are set out in the ‘Copyright and acknowlgements’ section of 6.1 Preparing for a BRIDGE Module Workshop. The trip   When setting up a mission to visit a foreign country, a number of cultural and administrative protocols and other pre-departure matters (such as visas, cultural briefings, and interpreters) need to be taken into consideration. Typically, a mission will be conducted in response to a request by an interested organisation and will follow the initial analysis phase. A mutually convenient time will need to be agreed upon between the mission members and the interested organisation. Meetings should be pre-arranged in order to ensure best use of time during the scoping mission and to avoid operation events (such as voter registration periods or Elections) or cultural events and public holidays (e.g. Ramadan) For an on-site needs assessment mission to be thorough and meaningful, at least one trip should be arranged, for a minimum of one working week. The agenda for such a one-week mission could be as follows: Day 1 – Meet with the client organisation’s top officials (allow several hours for initial meeting and follow-up meetings, if necessary). Days 2 to 5 – Meet with local NGOs, other stakeholders, and electoral assistance or aid agencies  (for example IDEA, IFES, NDI, or UNDP), It is only through these types of face-to-face meetings that clear, informed recommendations can be made as to what sort of BRIDGE program (if any) will be of most use to the client organisation. […]
August 17, 2009

BRIDGE in Electoral Assistance and Capacity Building Programs

(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: technical, operational and management training programs public administration assistance institutional exchanges where members and staff visit other institutions international cooperation between EMBs and stakeholders from different countries international election observation by EMB staff and electoral stakeholders election practitioners networks whether global or regional degree programs in fields related to public administration and electoral processes mentoring programs whether within EMB staff or where international experts mentor national staff as part of technical assistance programs 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 Don’t rush.  Capacity development is a long-term process.  It eludes delivery pressures, quick fixes and the search for short-term results. Respect the value systems and foster self-esteem.  The imposition of alien values can undermine confidence. Capacity development builds upon respect and self-esteem. Scan locally and globally; reinvent locally. There are no blueprints. Capacity development draws upon voluntary learning, with genuine commitment and interest.  Knowledge cannot be transferred; it needs to be acquired. Challenge mindsets and power differentials. Capacity development is not power neutral, and challenging mindsets and vested interests is difficult. Frank dialogue and a collective culture of transparency are essential steps. Think and act in terms of sustainable capacity outcomes. Capacity is at the core of development; any course of action needs to promote this end. Responsible leaders will inspire their institutions and societies to work accordingly. Establish positive incentives. Motives and incentives need to be aligned with the objective of capacity development, including through governance systems that respect fundamental rights.  Public sector employment is one particular area where distortions throw up major obstacles. Integrate external inputs into national priorities, processes and systems. External inputs need to correspond to real demand and be flexible enough to respond to national needs and agendas. Where national systems are not strong enough, they should be reformed and strengthened, not bypassed. Build on existing capacities rather than creating new ones. This implies the use of national expertise, resuscitation and strengthening of national institutions, as well as protection of social and cultural capital. Stay engaged under difficult circumstances. The weaker the capacity the greater the need. Low capacities are not an argument for withdrawal or for driving external agendas. People should not be held hostage to irresponsible governance. Remain accountable to ultimate beneficiaries. Any responsible government is answerable to its people, and should foster transparency as the foremost instrument of public accountability.  Where governance is unsatisfactory it is even more important to anchor development firmly in stakeholder participation and to maintain pressure points for an inclusive accountability system. 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: Professional development is a higher corporate priority inside the institution reflected in human resource practices. A BRIDGE-like active learning approach is incorporated into a training regime making use of fully customized resources informed by the original BRIDGE materials. The morale of staff, institutional pride, and commitment to the values of democratic electoral processes is thriving. The performance of the institution in delivering certain elections-related functions that were the focus of the BRIDGE workshops has improved because of increased skills and processes inspired and informed by the BRIDGE experience and resources. There is increased understanding of broader issues of sustainability within the institution, for example as regards the introduction of IT solutions, procurement decisions etc. The improved state of relations between stakeholders brought together in BRIDGE workshops serves as an enabling factor for credible electoral processes. An improved policy framework is in place in specific areas corresponding to the focus of the BRIDGE program. 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 […]
August 17, 2009

Needs Assessment

Consideration of the use of BRIDGE may be prompted in a number of ways. A general request, not making specific mention of BRIDGE, may be received for assistance with electoral administration, electoral training or staff capacity development. In some cases a donor or BRIDGE partner conducts a broad country-based assessment on electoral assistance and may consider the option of using BRIDGE as part of an assistance package. Over a series of exploratory discussions, a consensus may develop between several bodies that the use of BRIDGE would be worth exploring, without there necessarily being a formal request. Another scenario is a specific request received directly from an organisation such as an electoral management body (EMB) or from the government of a country that would like to use BRIDGE as a short-term project. The first set of questions to assess whether BRIDGE would be relevant or feasible are: Where a request is submitted by an organisation, is it duly authorised to do so? (This is particularly important where an organisation is seeking assistance from a foreign source, in which case diplomatic and foreign policy issues are likely to arise). Is there a baseline commitment to democratic values in the interested organisation or country?  Is the use of BRIDGE being sought in order to legitimise processes or organisations that are obviously flawed? Has the interested organisation (for example an EMB) already been identified? Does it even exist? If not, is BRIDGE to be used for institution building? Is the interested organisation committed to staff development? Is there currently a critical mass of support for undertaking capacity development (not necessarily using BRIDGE)? How broad is that support among the interested organisation’s management and staff, partner organisations, implementing agencies and donors? Within these bodies, is support generalised or is it concentrated in certain individuals? Is there a formalised, institutional commitment or only a personal one? Is the use of BRIDGE being sought in order to generate change within an organisation? If support is not currently manifest, is this a permanent and unchangeable constraint or does it appear possible to build support at a later stage? Is there a long-standing personal or institutional relationship with the interested organisation? Will work be conducted through other organisations or individuals who have such a relationship? Is the use of BRIDGE expected to contribute to building such a relationship? On the basis of what can be discerned even before detailed examination, is there a reasonable prospect that resources will be able to be mobilised for the use of BRIDGE? What resources (in particular: funding for initial study and for later development and implementation; translated, customised and appropriately adapted materials, evaluation, time; accredited facilitators; and experienced project managers) might be available, both within and from outside the country? Are the interested organisation’s priorities likely to be dominated by short-term, often election-related, tasks? Are there aspects of the environment in a country – for example, the security situation – that would essentially rule out the conduct of BRIDGE workshops, at least in the short run, or significantly constrain the way in which BRIDGE might be used? Is there agreement on the expenditure of funds and resources? With widely differing needs competing for limited funds, and with many options available to satisfy those needs, reaching agreement on what should actually be done may be difficult. It is crucial that the project advocate recognise this. If the answers to these questions suggest that the use of BRIDGE is not likely to be a feasible option, other forms of support and capacity development – which are beyond the scope of this manual – might nevertheless be considered. It should also be understood that the answers, should they be insufficient to guide a decision on whether or not to use BRIDGE, may nevertheless serve to identify factors to be taken into account in determining the best approach to needs assessment, design and implementation of an electoral assistance program. Should BRIDGE be a relevant part of an envisioned package, a needs assessment will inform all the relevant stakeholders of the consultative process followed, key areas to be addressed, potential strategy to implement the project and ensure the evaluation of the impact of the project. This needs assessment process should involve at least one accredited, experienced BRIDGE facilitator. This will help to anticipate any problems (logistical, technical, or financial) that might be encountered during implementation, as well as build a relationship with the main stakeholders. When an assessment is undertaken, one of the first steps should involve communication with other BRIDGE partners working in the area, allowing for streamlining and integration of BRIDGE activities to maximise impact. Typical outputs of a needs assessment process would be: An assessment of the existing conditions that enable the conduct of capacity development, such as past learning experiences, institutional and operational contexts and stakeholder concerns. An assessment of the factors that inhibit the conduct of capacity development. The development of criteria that allow for the measurement of the impact of the capacity development project. The development of recommendations for practical and cost effective means of capacity development. Assessment considerations summary The conduct of the needs assessment to take into account some of the following considerations: Appropriateness of BRIDGE BRIDGE may not be the most appropriate tool to be used in a particular context. There are instances where institutional, operational or human resource issues may result in other solutions being more appropriate. The context may require more direct electoral assistance rather than the use of BRIDGE or even individualised processes such as coaching, which may make BRIDGE inappropriate as the required tool.   Capacity development vs. operational training It is likely that many clients will consider that, rather than a BRIDGE-style workshop, what they need is operational training directly related to their work.   Target groups Ideally, participants should represent a cross-section of the organisation’s personnel, for example, senior managers, middle managers field staff only. Increasingly, BRIDGE workshops have been used effectively to sensitise, inform and engage other stakeholders in the electoral process such as political party members, community leaders and journalists. Centralised vs. decentralised training The client may have preferences concerning the number and location of workshops. This will determine the type, composition and length of the BRIDGE program, as well as the funding required.   Time frame for training The electoral cycle is a useful tool for a dialogue on effective sequencing and timing, recognising  that realistically the best laid plans may change dramatically due to circumstances such as changes in the legal or political arena   Compatibility with other capacity development initiatives It is important for BRIDGE planning to be aware of other capacity development initiatives that are happening that at the time/place, and ensure appropriate coordination and compatibility between programs.   Risk assessment Planning for any project requires undertaking an assessment of the risks involved. Such an assessment should be outlined in a risk assessment plan that would cover the following aspects: risks, in other words, possible events which could compromise the success of the project likelihood of occurrence likely impact measures considered to minimise and manage identified […]

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