BRIDGE and the Portuguese Speaking Countries in Africa and Timor Leste

10 June 2011

The Pro PALOP-TL is geographically concentrated on strengthening electoral processes and institutions in Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome et Principe, Cape Verde Mozambique, Angola and Timor Leste and it is fully funded by the EU with 6.1 million EURO and implemented by UNDP (the country office in Bissau is the chef de file). The Pro PALOP-TL represents a forward-looking project with a goal of ensuring sustainable impact through its primary emphasis on knowledge production, knowledge transfer and capacity development. The three components of the projects supports 1) the strengthening of electoral institutions in the six countries of focus, 2) the adaptation of knowledge tools and products to meet with the needs and requirements of the PALOP-TL countries, and 3) political participation of women and youth, parliamentary strengthening and support to media institutions. 

Through this innovative project structure, the Pro PALOP-TL aims to build networks, promote south-south collaboration and create an environment for the exchange of experiences and lessons learned among EMBs and relevant electoral stakeholders among Portuguese-speaking countries. This is also being accomplished through the implementation of a comprehensive BRIDGE strategy developed jointly with the electoral stakeholders of the six beneficiary countries during the assessment-formulation missions to carried out in 2010 by the Project Management Unit of the PRO PALOP TL team to prepare the annual working plans 2010-2011 and 2012.

Beneficiaries of the six countries asked the PRO PALOP TL to focus on specific issues that are considered most crucial to further enhance electoral processes in their countries. For 2011 this means to organize one TtF for each country, and 18 module workshops preceded by curriculum development activities for each module workshops. This strategy will allow approximately 360 participants to participate in BRIDGE activities. 120 participants are expected to complete the first phase of BRIDGE accreditation and finally between 4 and 8 semi-accredited facilitators from each country will complete the accreditation process BRIDGE, by December 2011.        

The Implementation of the Strategy 

By design all the members of the Project Management Unit of the PRO PALOP TL have all different levels of BRIDGE accreditation: 2 semi accredited, 3 Workshop Facilitators and 2 Accrediting Facilitators. The Chief Technical Electoral Advisor (Fabio Bargiacchi), the Electoral Assistance Specialist (Ricardo Godinho Gomes) and the National Project Coordinator (Malam Jassi) are Workshop Facilitators. Eliane Torres (Electoral Assistance and Parliamentary Development Officer) and Sofia de Almeida (Project Associate) are Semi-Accredited and will be soon accredited as Workshop Facilitators during the next module workshops in Bissau on Media and Electoral Dispute Resolutions. Deryck Fritz and Fernanda Lopes are the two dedicated Capacity Development Advisors of the PRO PALOP and are the two Accrediting BRIDGE Facilitators that are supporting the PMU to deliver all the BRIDGE activities.

The project can also counts on Workshop Facilitators that have been previously or recently accredited as Workshop Facilitators from Mozambique (country that hold the coordination of the cooperation between the EU and the PALOP TL countries) and Guinea Bissau (country chef de file for the implementation of the PRO PALOP TL. These include Felisberto Naife (Director General of the STAE Mozambique) Claudio Albasini (Director of the Civic Education Department of STAE Mozambique) Malam Jassi (former Executive Secretary of the NEC Bissau) mentioned above, Nelson Menezes d´Alva and António Yaia Pereira da Siva Jau from the Guinea-Bissau CNE and Silvina da Silva Tavares representing civil society Guinea Bissau.

The Project has contracted three institutions to translate all the necessary material from the existing BRIDGE module and to support, adapt and update these into the portuguese.

Since the beginning of the year, PRO PALOP TL has been already organized the TtFs in Bissau and Cape Verde and the Voter Registration workshop in Guinea Bissau, which have produced 43 semi-accredited facilitators and 4 workshop facilitators. By the end of 2011 TfTs are also expected be organized in, Mozambique, Timor Leste, Sao Tome and Angola.

Leadership Development& Conflict Management Skills for the Administration of Elections 

The PRO PALOP TL, following the indications of the beneficiaries is also working to build capacities in the cross-roads between electoral administration, conflict management and leadership. This project aims therefore to identify ways in which electoral administrators and other electoral stakeholders can improve their leadership skills and adopt new measures for preventing the escalation of election-related violence and conflict throughout the electoral cycles. A specific thematic seminar using BRIDGE Methodology is being conceived targeting senior and middle staff of electoral management bodies on “Leadership Development& Conflict Management Skills for the Administration of Elections”.

The seminar will support creating a vision for long-term strategic goals, dealing with political parties and the media, or dealing with fraud or a crisis, lobbying for reform and resources, improving communication and synergies with other key institutions and actors. The seminar will also target representatives of, parliaments, media, NGOs and security services to strengthen their leadership skills, together with the colleagues of the electoral management bodies via self-awareness, influence, communication and learning agility and by focusing on “Leading through Collaboration” and “Leading within the System”.

Focuses on leadership development and conflict management skills for all electoral stakeholders will support them to surmount difficult obstacles and to face the complex interdependent challenges involved in organizing or supervising an electoral event.

The TFT in Cape Vert

From 22 April to 6 May, the second BRIDGE TtF conducted in Portuguese in the context of the PRO PALOP TL was held in Cape Verde, in the capital, Praia, on the charming island of Santiago. The 19 participants were from several electoral related organizations, including the National Electoral Commission (CNE), the General Directorate for Support to the Electoral Process (DGAPE, the governmental body responsible for voter registration), several regional voter registration commissions, the police service, political parties represented in the parliament, civil society organizations and a journalist. The participants all emphasized that their expectations of the course were met and even surpassed during the two weeks exercise, as they diligently applied themselves to understanding and implementing the BRIDGE methodology, through the ice breakers, energizers and substantive activities.

According to Elba Pires, the permanent secretary of the National Electoral Commission of Cape Verde, the BRIDGE training was “very good and timely, especially because it allowed us to review important content on the voter registration process and to learn about proper techniques for transmission of election content, and thus it exceeded my expectations”. The accrediting facilitators for the course were Fernanda Lopes and Deryck Fritz and included the participation of two other workshop facilitators of the PRO PALOP TL: Fabio Bargiacchi (Chief Techinical Electoral Adviser) and Ricardo Godinho Gomes (Electoral Assistance specialist).

Thematic Voter Registration Seminar in Bissau  

Between the 17th and the 19th May 2011, the Guinea Bissau National Popular Assembly (ANP) hosted a BRIDGE thematic seminar on the different types and modalities of Voter Registration to implement in Guinea Bissau. The seminar aimed at the empowerment and capacity development of national actors, including representatives from the Ministry of Territorial Administration, National Elections Commission, National People Assembly, Legislative Political Parties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Institute for Statistics, Supreme Justice Court, Chairpersons of the Regional Elections Commissions, Civil Society, traditional and potential donors of the electoral process in Guinea-Bissau, experts of the Pro PALOP-TL and Officials of EMBs from Cape Verde and Mozambique.

The seminar enabled the relevant actors to analyze and discuss the principles and types of voters’ registration methods and their sustainability in the context of Guinea Bissau. One of the key outputs of the Seminar was an Official Declaration signed by the main actors and institutions involved in the electoral process in Guinea Bissau recommending to the political authorities the adoption of a Biometric Voter Registration.

The seminar in Bissau relied on the participation and contribution of technical and project experts of the Pro-TL PALOP that presented case studies of Timor Leste and, Brazil and the relevant experiences regarding the challenges of introducing biometrics in voter registration processes of those countries. The seminar was preceded by curriculum development activities and facilitated by Fernanda Lopes,
Deryck Fritz, Ricardo Godinho and Fabio Bargiacchi who also assisted in process of accreditation as workshop facilitators four persons from Guinea Bissau among those that had received the TfT two months earlier.


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