Forty-seven percent of the Commission’s permanent staff benefited from the series of trainings in electoral management, electoral systems, boundary delimitation, and voter registration. Two sets of thirty participants took part in successive five-day trainings. Participants included all Magistrates and Assistants Magistrates from Liberia, 18 counties, select NEC Headquarters staff, all seven NEC Commissioners including the Chairman, Hon. James Fromayan, and IFES/Liberia program staff.
The BRIDGE training was funded by IFES and conducted in close collaboration with International IDEA and the NEC. The facilitation team consisted of Theophilus Dowetin, West Africa Programme Manager – IDEA, Sara Staino, ACE Facilitator/Policy Specialist – IDEA, Almami Cyllah, Country Director – IFES/Liberia, Skye Christensen, Programme Associate IFES, and James Wallace, Director of Training – NEC.
When the NEC conducted the 2005 general elections in Liberia, they had full international cooperation, including a large UN Mission, international advisors, and logistics support. In current and future electoral cycles the NEC will need to be largely self-sufficient drawing on its own capacity to meet the high standards set in 2005. The BRIDGE course aims at building the capacity of the NEC to prepare them for local elections, by-elections, and national elections in 2011; events they will conduct with minimal international support. Beyond electoral events, the NEC is currently leading a national boundary delimitation process, and plans to update their voter’s list in anticipation of local elections in 2008.
The projects both currently underway and planned at the NEC, informed the design and focus of the training curriculum. The facilitation team worked carefully to create a curriculum to build-on the participant’s interests, inform current debates within the organization, and stave off problems in the future. The training aimed to enhance the knowledge of NEC officials in the following areas:
A half-day showcase of BRIDGE was held at the commencement of the training series, affording invited guests from the legislature and the international community an opportunity to appreciate the BRIDGE methodology.
Course evaluations held throughout the course were overwhelmingly positive, and the NEC has requested a follow-up BRIDGE training to further develop staff and train remaining personnel.Â The partners are considering this request.
Furthermore, the NEC is in the process of developing a resource centre within the institution, and has shown interest in the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. To support this initiative, IDEA is preparing an ACE workshop to be held at the NEC headquarters on June 28, 2007.
Here are some photos from the course: