On 30 November 2019 Nepal will see the biggest by-elections in its history, with nearly half a million voters to elect representatives for at least 51 vacant positions across the country.
The Election Commission, Nepal (ECN) started preparations and organized a two-day Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) workshop on Electoral Operational Planning on 6-7 September 2019 at its Electoral Education and Information Centre in Kathmandu. The workshop included 26 participants from different units of the Commission, out of whom six were female. This is the first time that the BRIDGE Electoral Operational Planning Module (Version 3) was delivered in Nepal or for the ECN Staff. The workshop echoed the need for robust and systematic operational planning as elections are among the biggest logistic events ever held.
The Secretary of the ECN, Dev Kumari Guragain stressed that this particular BRIDGE module is extremely pertinent, and appreciated that the workshop would allow ECN officials to share their learning. Likewise, the other speakers emphasized that the workshop would not only be beneficial for the by-elections, but that the benefits and the knowledge should extend beyond the workshop to ensure a lasting impact.
The participants expressed that out of the ten sessions in the programme, the most useful ones for them were about the operational planning process, the formulation of a comprehensive operational calendar and plan as well as the one on risk management. This was because of the direct relevance for their preparations of the approaching by-elections. Out of the total participants, 75% reported increased knowledge and skills in the topics covered during the workshop and 67 % reported increased level of confidence in talking about these topics.
BRIDGE is a modular professional development programme for boosting the knowledge and expertise of election administrators. It is an important element of the work of UNDP Nepal’s Electoral Support Project (ESP) in its efforts to strengthen the capacity of ECN staff. The workshop was supported by ESP with backing from the European Union (EU).
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 Nepal (ECN) to conduct 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. The ESP is currently funded by the EU.