An evaluation of the BRIDGE programme in Nepal has deemed it an effective professional development tool for the Election Commission, and credited it for creating a paradigm shift in training methodology and improving the quality of the ECN’s relationships with its stakeholders.
Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) is a modular professional development programme that has become the world’s leading tool to build the capacity of election administrators. BRIDGE is a unique initiative where five leading organisations in the democracy and governance field jointly committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the most comprehensive curriculum and workshop package available. In Nepal, the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) has been implementing BRIDGE since 2007, with extensive support from UNDP’s Electoral Support Project (ESP) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), as well as International IDEA.
ESP had invited Mr. Ross Attrill and Dr. Prakash Bhattarai to evaluate the impact of the BRIDGE programme in Nepal over the past 10 years. The main objective was to provide recommendations on what is required for ECN to take full ownership of their professional capacity development programme so that it can be continued without international assistance in the future. The evaluation was funded by the European Union.
The evaluation team found that BRIDGE was very popular among ECN officials because they believed it enhanced electoral management knowledge and skills and built confidence in managing elections. BRIDGE was seen as a great learning experience that provided immediate and applicable knowledge and skills in their roles as election officials in Nepal.
“The training management skills we learned through BRIDGE helped us to successfully design, implement, and manage the trainings during the 2017 elections,” said an ECN official. “Because of the confidence we gained through the experience, we were able to ensure the uniformity of training content in each place.”
BRIDGE was deemed to have created a paradigm shift in ECN training practices. A key feature of the programme is that it uses face-to-face interactive adult-learning methodology. According to a former election commissioner, the programme “helped ECN to move from an outdated training methodology to a more modern form, and comprised a sort of self-actualization training for those who took part.”
Despite the positive impacts, however, the evaluation team also identified certain challenges for the future of BRIDGE in Nepal, especially in terms of sustainability, notably owing to its high cost. Some key recommendations provided by the report to overcome these challenges include developing a core BRIDGE team within the ECN to customize, translate, plan, prepare, implement, evaluate, follow up and document all elements of BRIDGE; working with the BRIDGE partners in Nepal to develop a plan for the customization, updating, translation, and accessibility of BRIDGE materials; developing clear and transparent policies for who should attend BRIDGE, when and why; and exploring the concept of sharing the cost of implementing BRIDGE with its international partners. Together with the other BRIDGE partners in Nepal—namely, IFES and International IDEA—ESP is now supporting ECN in implementing the recommendations.
The evaluation of BRIDGE at the country level is the first of its kind and it is hoped that the methodology developed for it will be useful for similar work in other countries.
Download the full report here.
The Electoral Support Project- Phase II (ESP) is a technical assistance initiative which focuses on a long-term institutional and professional capacity development of the Election Commission (ECN) for conducting credible, inclusive and transparent elections. The objectives of the project are 1) to strengthen the capacity of the ECN to function as an independent and credible institution, 2) to allow the conduct of the election cycle in an effective, sustainable, and credible manner, and 3) to increase democratic participation, particularly for under-represented and disadvantaged segments of the Nepali society. ESP is currently funded by EU.