A BRIDGE program should always be seen as a long-term capacity development effort, not a short-term quick-fix. It should involve:
This manual explains each of these steps in detail.
A timeline of events in the implementation process might look like this:
January – Needs assessment done by client organisation, broad needs identified relating to better electoral administration. Broad objectives to address these needs identified. Evaluation framework structured to measure the impact of the objectives.
March – BRIDGE identified as possible tool in wider program to address client organisation needs.
April – Scoping mission conducted by BRIDGE expert to evaluate appropriateness of BRIDGE. Showcase conducted. BRIDGE is deemed appropriate.
June – Introduction to Electoral Administration module workshop run for key stakeholders and decision-makers in client organisation to familiarise them with BRIDGE.
August – Program team in place and beginning to design program, identify objectives and audiences. Customisation process begins.
October – Introduction to Electoral Administration and Strategic and Financial Planning module workshops (or other relevant to program objectives) run for a wider audience within the client organisation, including potential local facilitators.
December – Potential local facilitators identified and partially accredited at a Train the Facilitator workshop. Implementation Workshop held.
January – March – First set of customised module workshops addressing program objectives rolled out to client organisation staff and selected external stakeholders, facilitated by an Accrediting Facilitator and local facilitators who have just completed the TtF.
April – May – Evaluation and reporting of module workshops just completed. Adjustments made to program design if necessary.
June-August – Second set of customised module workshops rolled out with as much or as little support from external, more experienced BRIDGE facilitators as needed. Local facilitators may feel ready to run these modules independently by this stage, or may ask for minimal assistance from an external, more experienced BRIDGE facilitator.
September – Further evaluation and reporting, including another stage of evaluation of the first set of workshops.
October onwards – Local facilitators and program team develop their professional development plan.
Example of East Timor
In East Timor a year-long electoral capacity building program was developed in collaboration with the EMB, other key actors in the broader electoral field including UNDP; the Australian donor organisation – AusAID – and the delivery organisation – the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The program was devised to take into account the electoral cycle; the needs of the staff of the East Timorese EMB; the timing and effect of other electoral programs; the availability of staff; and the legislative and political climate in a post-conflict country.
Several BRIDGE workshops were delivered to the same group of staff – a mixture of operational and head office staff – over the course of a year. A work placement program had also been planned for two members of the East Timor EMB staff to visit the Northern Territory in Australia on three occasions over a period of several months to shadow preparations and delivery of a local government election. Dates, legislative change, availability of staff, etc in both countries and an offer of shared funding from UNDP led to a reworking of the program over the period of a couple of weeks to take up the obvious benefits to all being offered by the previously unforseen opportunity.
East Timor was planning municipal elections for the first time and the Northern Territory was about to hold municipal and shire elections, also for the first time. The obvious parallels of experience highlighted multiple opportunities too good to miss. Funds previously identified for a further BRIDGE workshop and the work placement program previously described, were joined with travel funding provided by UNDP. The subsequent hastily reworked program resulted in sixteen East Timorese EMB staff visiting Darwin for a couple of weeks. Two EMB representatives were also able to accompany an AEC mobile polling team to remote communities and islands to conduct early voting.
Many similar challenges were being faced by the two EMBs. The program incorporated a week of election operational training and observation followed by a four day Voter Information BRIDGE workshop. The flexibility on all parts and commitment to meet changing needs rather than continue with an existing program, resulted in an extremely valuable experience and development opportunity for a much larger group of East Timorese EMB staff and a further relationship building opportunity, with implications for further opportunities in the future, with an EMB in another country facing some of the same ordeals.