Focus On: Showcasing BRIDGE
August 17, 2009
Financial Planning & Formal Agreements
August 17, 2009

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.

 

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