EISA Niger: Citizen observation 2020/1

Election day: Data sent in real time by COCEN citizen observers was collated and presented

The European Union, in addition to funding EISA's support to the Electoral Management Body and to the Media Council, provided a six month grant for EISA to support civil society organisations under the project titled "Support to citizen observation of elections for a credible, transparent and peaceful process in Niger". The project commenced on 24 November 2020 and concluded at the end of May 2021.

Coalition for Citizen Observation of Elections in Niger formed

EISA brought together five Nigerien civil society organisations networks and associations to form a network titled "Coalition for Citizen Observation of Elections in Niger" (COCEN). These were:

  • Democracy and Development (ROAD)
  • African Youth and Development Actions (JAAD)
  • TUNU GA KAY Anti-Poverty Action Group (GAAP)
  • Union of Youth of Member States of the Council of the Entente (UJUMCE)
  • Solidarité, an NGO
COCEN citizen observer mission press conference
Observers recruited

With EISA's support, the network established a coordinating committee comprised of a representative of each Network member who in turn identified the 16 regional supervisors and recruited 750 observers to observe the elections across as much of the country in areas that the security situation allowed. The selection criteria for observers included their membership in a network organiation/association, residing in the locality that they were to be deployed to, neutrality vis-à-vis political parties and structures in charge of elections, possession of an Android phone and familiarity with IT tools. Member organisations were invited to identify observers (LTOs and STOs) in the localities concerned drawn from their members according to a distribution quota established through an agreement between them.

Observers trained

EISA facilitated and support the Network in preparing training material and conducting the following training events namely:

Training workshop for COCEN citizen observers
  • Supervisor training, facilitated by EISA, took place from 9-12 December 2020 in Niamey for the 16 identified supervisors recruited from all eight regions of the country, Using the train-the-trainer approach, the supervisors were able to return to their respective regions to train their team's observers.
  • Eight two-day training workshops for long-term observers (LTOs) were held in Niamey from 19-20 December 2020, and in Tahoua, Agadez, Diffa, Zinder and Maradi from 22-23 December 2020. The Tillabery and Dosso LTOs were trained in Niamey. One hundred and fifty-four LTOs were trained. In addition to being equipped with the observation methodology, these LTO were trained to train STOs deployed in their respective regions.
  • Twenty-three workshops for short-term observers (STOs) were conducted for the 1st round, in the period from 19-24 December 2020 in all the regional capitals. These workshops were facilitated by the LTOs. The late start of recruitment and the inexperience of the partner organisations only allowed for 590 STOs to be trained and deployed.
COCEN observers were trained in the use of the Popola's data tablet and cellphone transfer system

For the second round elections an 180 additional STOs were trained in 17-19 February and then deployed, bringing the total number of STOs to 750. These new observers filled a void created by an organisation that did not fulfil its responsibilities withdrew from the coalition during the first round, along with its observers.

Orientation for coordinators

An orientation session for coordinators was held at the EISA Niamey on January 28, 2021. Led by EISA, this session focused on observer deployment and coordination strategy. It enabled the coordinators to better understand their roles in the system.

Support for the deployment of observers

For all phases of the observation process check lists were developed and used by LTO and STO observers in the field.

With the recruitment of new observers, the body of STOs were reinforced in the second round, from 590 to 679 observers. This made it possible to cover 1584 polling stations. In addition, the 154 LTOs were still on the ground observing the different phases of the process.

COCEN's Election Watch situation room
An Election Watch Unit established

An Election Watch Unit was set up at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Niamey. The function of the unit was to coordinate observation operations in the field using EISA's Popola system, an automated centralised data processing platform linked to their telephones and tablets. This allowed real-time data to be fed back so that the COCEN observation mission was able to report the observations twice on polling day.

COCEN's EOM statements