Maintaining and Sustaining BRIDGE Programs

One of the key messages of this manual is to consider, plan and implement BRIDGE programs in a sustainable, meaningful manner. This section will summarise and reiterate the key points that relate to sustainable BRIDGE programming, and will look at the post-election period of the electoral cycle as a particularly important part of the electoral cycle from a sustainability point of view.

For BRIDGE partners or implementing organisations, a process rather than event (workshop/election) driven approach assumes continuing dialogue with the client even as a program comes to a close, for example by working through recommendations of a BRIDGE program evaluation report. Program planners need to ask whether future interventions are desirable, given the priority which BRIDGE places on empowering clients to internalise BRIDGE as a sustainable professional development tool. Instead of further interventions, routine follow up visits could be considered as part of an overall networking approach. These assumptions could be spelled out in maintenance and sustainability plans, for incorporation into the client organisation’s professional development and planning cycle.

When it comes to designing BRIDGE programs post-election environment, experience has shown that immediately after an electoral event there is the likelihood of the withdrawal of both attention and funding whether by government or donor funds. This is often coupled with staff reduction and the loss of internal and external expertise.

This post-election period can be seen as a moment of opportunity to implement a capacity development or sustainability plan however, allowing for a focus on planning and working with core or permanent staff in a way that the operational imperatives of the pre-election period does not permit . A post-election evaluation process can be used as an opportunity to bring together stakeholders and repair differences by looking forward and seeking to improve the electoral process. BRIDGE can be an ideal vehicle for designing workshops to serve both these purposes.

In maintaining and sustaining BRIDGE programs, continuity of staff is desirable and yet the ability of the client organisation to attract and retain capable facilitators may be out of the control of program planners. Nevertheless, the key personnel, even if not permanent, which could drive, own, implement and administer any future program should be identified and included in any maintenance and planning process. The departure of one key BRIDGE-trained person in an organisation may, after all, be the link that breaks the chain of sustainability.

Continuing and increasing the number of networks and partners after a program is complete is a core component of any sustainability plan. Organisations could look to other organisations – national and international – to continue the identified work.

The following table is a summary of the points made in the manual related to good practice in implementing sustainable, high quality and relevant BRIDGE programs :

Stages Measures enhancing sustainability
Before program
  • Participatory needs assessment reviewing in details existing capacities (three layers: individual, organisational, systemic)
  • Showcase BRIDGE
  • Encourage dialogue inside beneficiary institution on professional development and relevance of BRIDGE
  • Official demand for BRIDGE comes from beneficiary
  • Include beneficiary in needs assessment or scoping mission team
  • Identify most relevant unit inside institution to become anchor of BRIDGE program and involve it in all aspects of scoping mission and program definition. In most cases, this would be an existing training unit
  • Design with beneficiary a flexible and customised program with realistic program objectives that answer priority needs. If beneficiary has strategic plan, ensure that BRIDGE program contributes to its achievement
  • Allocate sufficient time to program – think long-term
  • Develop monitoring and evaluation indicators and methods for the program as a whole and agreed upon the choice of each workshop with beneficiary
  • Secure long-term financial resources, including from beneficiary institution, to support sustainability plan
  • Tailor planned number of facilitators (TtF) to objectives defined
  • Establish Steering Committee to supervise implementation and measure impact
  • Project implementation team includes training unit
  • Capacity-based selection of potential local facilitators. Must include personnel from training unit (if it exists)
  • Use existing training resources in BRIDGE workshop resources (customisation process).
During program
  • Coordinate closely with senior management, relevant technical units and other providers of capacity development (e.g. BRIDGE partners) – if applicable – to apply outcomes of workshop activities to on-going and planned change processes
  • Negotiate criteria for selection of participants (target group, level, gender, diversity, capacity) and strive to participate in selection process
  • Ensure visibility of workshops and their outcomes inside institution with wider stakeholder community
  • Involve training unit in a meaningful fashion in each step of preparing, delivering and evaluating workshops
  • Accredit local pool of facilitators (according to needs identified to serve long-term strategy)
  • Choose workshop activities that allow participants to apply skills and knowledge for addressing concrete institutional needs
  • Analyse workshop (schedule, activities, trainers, resources) and results of participants evaluations with training unit after each workshop
  • Involve training unit in writing workshop report
  • Assist training unit in presenting workshop results to Steering Committee
  • Jointly monitor (BRIDGE partner + training unit + relevant technical unit) workshop impact
After program
  • Support beneficiary institution to plan for continued implementation of professional development program, including financial needs. This could involve advising institution about reforming training unit into a full-blown capacity development unit
  • Support fund-raising from national budget and donors for continued implementation of professional development program
  • Advise human resources unit to incorporate professional development as part of induction and incentive strategy
  • Support training unit in compiling, finalising and archiving training resources based on lessons learnt during program
  • Final ‘lessons learnt’ workshop with institution and joint drafting of final report
  • Present final report to Steering Committee with recommendations for sustainability
  • Disseminate final report with recommendations to wider electoral stakeholder community
  • Periodically evaluate the program impact on institution according to pre-agreed schedule and indicators (see evaluation plan). In particular, wherever workshops triggered change processes inside institution, document and evaluate the outcomes of these
  • Coordinate with providers of long-term technical assistance to support implementation of change processes and policy development identified during program
  • Help secure support to networks of electoral stakeholders that might have appeared during program


Forgotten Password?