30 July 2021, Lomé - Identifying the need for ECOWAS Member States to establish a for-mal structure and guidelines for carrying out delimitation processes, the ECOWAS Electoral Affairs Division (EAD) conducted a modular training on boundary delimitation. The training is supported by GIZ, through the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO) Project, co-financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).
Facilitated by the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) accredited facilitators, the training which is taking place in Lomé, Togo, commenced on the 26th of July 2021 and will run through 30th July 2021. The aim is to build the capacity of professional election administrators to achieve effective, sustainable electoral processes. The modular training also aims to enable election administrators and stakeholders ex-plore the potential consequences of drawing or not drawing electoral boundaries and to identify principles that lead to a fair and effective delimitation process if electoral district boundaries are to be created.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Dr. Remi Ajibewa, the ECOWAS Director of Politi-cal Affairs appreciated the European Union, German Government and all concerned part-ners for their financial and technical support. Dr Ajibewa underlined the significance of training and acknowledged that “it is important to equip election administrators so that they can master the electoral divisions and handle challenges associated with this critical stage of the electoral process.”
Also speaking at the event, Yusuf Shamsudeen, Technical Advisor on Electoral Affairs, stated, “It is obvious t there are several challenges of electoral division in the sub-region. Addressing these challenges requires not only sound understanding of the principles and the criteria of standard boundary delimitation, but also continuous commitment of all electoral actors.” He thus noted that the training should not be viewed as a one-off intervention. Knowledge gathered should be used to engage critical stakeholders around elec-toral division in respective countries. Mr. Shamsudeen reiterated that GIZ will continue to collaborate with ECOWAS in capacity building initiatives related to electoral issues.
While acknowledging the importance of the training, the President of the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI), Mr Ayassor Tchambakor, remarked that a bet-ter understanding of application of the knowledge that will be acquired during the train-ing will result in an improvement of process of delineation of electoral districts in West Africa. He further urged the participants to follow with great attention.
By the end of the training, it is anticipated that all participants will know how to explore the concept of alternative approaches to Boundary Delimitation, understand the main principles underlying credible and acceptable boundary delimitation processes and the magnitude of electoral district as well as understand the principles of and criteria for good boundary delimitation and its structure. Furthermore, participants will partake in practical delimitation exercises such as allocating seats, producing databases of maps and data, evaluating district plans and preparing an operational plan for the conduct of a delimitation process. Participants will also learn how to compare and contrast delimitation practices of numerous countries, consider potential consequences of adopting differing approaches and evaluate which methods are potentially sustainable in their own context.
This is first of the two BRIDGE trainings planned by ECOWAS with support from the GIZ-EPSAO project.