UNDP’s support to the Plurinational Electoral Organ of Bolivia is taking place in a challenging political environment which has additional difficulties of a health crisis added, This has prompted our stakeholders at the regional electoral tribunals as well as our own team to come up with creative solutions to fulfil our respective mandate remotely due to the massive spike in COVID-19 cases during the past few months.
In this context, digital tools such as Zoom have been extremely useful in what is a reactionary situation but it has been greatly supported by WhatsApp as well as established social media networks. We’ve been using them on a daily basis both for internal meetings and coordination or planning activities, as well as for voter education and citizen outreach events such as: weekly dialogues with political party delegates, civil society representatives, leaders of indigenous communities or other local actors. The ease provided by videoconferencing made it easier to combine in-person training with Zoom sessions as well as pre-recorded videos when the cascade trainings of coordinators and facilitators started, as these were the people who, in turn, were going to train electoral notaries and poll workers.
While videoconference tools can never substitute face-to-face work, and sometimes technical issues can be very frustrating, they’ve been a useful addition to the existing tools at our disposal. Most importantly, they’ve shortened the physical distance that the pandemic has forced upon us. One small, yet undisputable silver lining of this pandemic is that it has done more to promote digital literacy in Bolivia than anything else ever could which will only aid projects and other initiatives in the future whether online or digital.
Elia Varela, Departmental Electoral Advisor for Chuquisaca and Potosi