IBI Taps Local Talent to Support Liberia's National Election Commission
IBI LASS's Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, Dala Korkoyah, Jr. (no relation to NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya) delivers training at a workshop.
For the last 30 months IBI has been the implementing partner of the USAID Liberia Administration and Systems Strengthening program. This activity sought to build the capabilities of the Liberian National Elections Commission (NEC) in fulfilling their mandate, including running the 2017 Presidential Elections.
Liberian public institutions have seen a re-energized influx of donor activity since the end of Ebola crisis. This includes waves of expat advisors coming into different institutions across Monrovia. Project Chief of Party, Philip Pleiwon acknowledged that civil servants and their institutions were experiencing “consultant fatigue,” with many international consultants coming in and out. Mr. Pleiwon, a Liberian national who transitioned to the project leader role in February 2016 recalled our strategy to counter this, “We were trying to hire locally as much as possible.” Initially there was some apprehension when the LASS program started, that it would be more of the same. When the LASS team arrived, and presented their qualifications NEC employees were put at ease when they saw that they were fellow Liberians or Liberian diaspora members. The team comprised Liberian advisors in the technical fields of: Human Resources, Monitoring and Evaluation, Information Technology, and Financial Management and a Ghanaian Procurement Advisor who has extensive previous experience working in Liberia.
Management Systems Advisor, Wadei Powell described, "There is nothing that replaces cultural competency.” She went on, “The fact that I am Liberian, I understand body language, Liberian body language. I understand intonations.” Having local nationals as advisors assisted in initial trust building, boosted NEC employees’ self-confidence, and gave them Liberian role models. Each of our
consultants followed LASS’s guiding principles of NEC ownership of the organizational development and capacity building process. For example, Ms. Powell conducted a process mapping exercise with each section within the NEC. The NEC Operations Unit Deputy Executive Director described how previously a consultant had completed a process mapping for the NEC, but “this one was done with the staff,” emphasis hers. The process mapping exercise helped the staff understand where their challenges are and what can be done to improve their work.
LASS advisors did not go into their work telling the NEC that they alone had all the answers, but worked with the staff to find answers together. Chairman Jerome Korkoya described LASS as having "provided a hands-on learning experience” and stated “I was impressed.” He went on to say “the intervention has been very helpful to help us run elections.” IBI closed-out the LASS project on Oct. 21, 2017. Some of the results achieved by LASS in its support of the NEC include:
Procured, installed, and trained Human Resources and Financial Management Units on new Human Resources and Financial Management software
Job descriptions drafted and approved for 99% of NEC staff positions
Supported NEC Procurement Evaluation Panels in the procurement of election materials
Facilitated first use of electronic monitoring and statistical analysis software for Voter Registration Monitoring
Reviewed and enhanced NEC Strategic Plan with performance management system
Critical IT assistance during Voter Roll Exhibition, which is when voters went to exhibition centers across the country to view and confirm their voter registration information was correct