BRIDGE Train the Facilitators Course on the shores of Lake Tanganika

21 December 2010

IFES-Burundi organized a BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) Train the Facilitator course from December 6-17 in Bujumbura, Burundi. The training was held for members of the Burundian and Congolese electoral commissions as well as national and international civil society members. The Train the Facilitator course, or TtF, helps participants develop the skills to conceive, organize and deliver workshops using the BRIDGE curriculum.

BRIDGE is the most comprehensive professional capacity development program on electoral processes currently used around the world. It is a joint initiative of five partners, including the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), International IDEA, UNEAD (UN Electoral Assistance Division), the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) and IFES (the International Foundation for Electoral Systems).

The two week long Train the Facilitator (TtF) course was led by three international consultants specializing in the BRIDGE electoral training program: Alexandra HOVELACQUE (France, Expert Facilitator), Gabrielle BARDALL (USA, Accrediting Facilitator) and Roger BUPIRI (DRC, Workshop Facilitator). Organized by IFES-Burundi with the financial support of USAID, the training included 19 participants: 7 representatives of the Burundian National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) including its president and vice-president, 4 members of the DRC Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), the Director of the Department of Electoral Administration of the Burundian Ministry of the Interior, 3 members of national and international NGOs based in Bujumbura and 4 members of IFES-Burundi.

At the end of the training, the participants achieved a ‘semi-accredited’ facilitator status and are henceforth able to use the resources of the BRIDGE program to develop and jointly deliver adapted trainings with fully-accredited co-trainers. Following their successful delivery of a workshop course under the mentorship of an accredited facilitator, the participants will receive their full accreditation as BRIDGE workshop facilitators.

This was not a first experience with BRIDGE for many participants in the training. Before deciding to pursue the Facilitator course, many of the Burundians had participated in workshop courses held in Ngozi in March and in Rutana in April as members of the CENI or CEPI (provincial CENI offices). The first workshop was an “Introduction to Electoral Administration, Voting Operations and Electoral Access” and the second addressed the topic of election dispute resolution. Many of the Congolese participants had also had previous experience with BRIDGE, notably during an IFES workshop in February on the topic of civic education.

Four participants and one facilitator were delegated by the Congolese CEI to participate in the training, reinforcing the South-South partnership encouraged by IFES-Burundi. The exchanges between the Burundian and Congolese were animated and educational for all. This TtF is a first for the Great Lakes region and is one of the first francophone TtFs ever organized.

As part of its strategy of capacity strengthening for local election administrators, IFES-Burundi plans to organize additional BRIDGE trainings this spring which will provide opportunities for some of the semi-accredited facilitators to practice what they learned during the TtF under the mentorship of experienced trainers and complete their full accreditation as BRIDGE facilitators.

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