International media coverage paints a bleak picture of how fair, open and representative many recent presidential elections have been. Thanks to Programme Gouvernance et Paix (PGP), an FHI 360-led program funded by USAID, the 2012 presidential election in Senegal saw increased transparency and also increased participation from women and youth.
Senegal is an island of stability in a tumultuous region. Peace and democracy in Senegal have helped it become a hub for regional and international organizations that work in West Africa. And though the country has a long democratic history, there had been a regression in democratic indicators over the last ten years. FHI 360 teamed with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to support the electoral process in Senegal.
Before the election occurred, PGP launched a civic awareness campaign that increased voter registration by 120% in Grand Yoff, a working-class suburb of 200,000 in Dakar. This initiative worked with women’s groups and youth organizations to boost voter registration in two underrepresented demographics. The project’s daily dialogue radio campaign was so successful that AFIA FM, one of the 17 implementing stations, incorporated it as a permanent fixture.
Beyond simply helping the public monitor the election, PGP took proactive steps to increase transparency in the pre-election period. PGP experts worked with leaders of both opposition and ruling parties to amend the election code. Negotiations reached consensus on more than 85% of issues. As a result of these negotiations, a single ballot was approved and a gender parity article was inserted. The next legislative election will, for the first time, provide gender and religious parity in the country’s General Assembly.
Working closely with print media, PGP trained journalists to monitor elections and provide objective coverage. As a result, those reporters published more than 30 election-related articles in prominent newspapers. Youth and female journalists trained through PGP interviewed presidential candidates about issues important to their respective demographics. Subsequent monitoring by journalists and interested constituencies has confirmed that Macky Sall, the current president, is adhering to the promises he made during these interviews.
PGP also coordinated a “situation room,” which connected election observers to a centralized technical center. This initiative, funded by USAID and implemented by local CSOs, deployed more than 1,500 election observers for each round of elections. Utilizing the mapping technology of partner OneWorldUK, the program facilitated the first real-time monitoring of a Senegalese election.
This program exemplifies the FHI 360 tagline, The Science of Improving Lives. We know the context in which we operate — the key actors, stakeholders and issues. We used an evidence-based approach to deliver an integrated solution with measurable impacts.