The Election Situation Room model of election engagement was pioneered in Nigeria, with the support of Open Society Foundations West Africa (OSIWA), to bring together many civil society groups under one umbrella. This was in response to a realization of the need to enhance Civil Society coordination and ensure constructive and proactive engagement on the election process.
A broad coalition of civil society groups collaborated during the April 2011 general elections (legislative and presidential, national and state-level), hosted by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), to provide a more effective response to the threat of fraud and violence.
The positive impact of the Election Situation Room in Nigeria was recognized by a broad spectrum of policy makers and the international community. During the course of elections, the Election Situation Room had periodic meetings with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be briefed on activities of INEC and to offer recommendations to the election management body. This relationship was premised on the quality of work the Election Situation Room was able to do which INEC leadership found invaluable. The international press quoted and reported the activities of the Situation Room, and statements from other governments, including the United States of America made use of the information from the Election Situation Room.
The success of this engagement in Nigeria informed the replication of the model in Liberia, Senegal, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi with the support of Open Society Foundations West Africa (OSIWA), Open Society Foundations East Africa (OSEA) and Open Society Foundations Southern Africa (OSISA) in the various regions. The Election Situation Room model brought together, organizations and management institutions in all these countries and maximized the assets for information gathering and provided a unified platform for analysis and intervention. Each group brought a particular asset to the Election Situation Room ranging from grassroots outreach, access to government, internet skills or access to security structures. By pooling resources together, the Election Situation Room in these respective countries was able to bring credibility and increased citizen participation in the electoral process.