Strengthening regional development in Tunisia
Title: Initiative for regional development
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministère de Développement, de l’Investissement et de la Coopération Internationale (MDICI)
Overall duration: 2015 to 2021
Tunisia is affected by huge regional development disparities. Decades of management by central government have left the regions of the country’s interior severely disadvantaged. Planning neglected the needs of the population and insufficiently exploited the potentials of the governorates, while measures were often implemented slowly. Despite the stated aim of the new constitution to pursue decentralisation, the regions still have few opportunities to participate in decision-making processes or to shape their own development.
After the revolution of 2010 and 2011, a new cross-sectoral approach to regional development was mapped out initially in four Tunisian governorates with support from the project. State, civil society and private sector actors took part in the discussions. They used participatory processes to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the different regions, elaborate common visions for development, and identify potential projects through which to fulfil the visions.
Since 2015 this method has been applied throughout the country to help create the Tunisian Government’s new Five-Year Development Plan 2016/2020. Some of the development projects are highly ambitious, yet the regional stakeholders lack both the necessary funding and the required technical skills. Furthermore, they do not have sufficient management experience to implement the new plans appropriately. The stakeholders lack experience in getting the local communities, civil society associations and the local private sector involved in the development processes. As a result, the new participatory approaches for integrated regional development have not yet been established within the governorates.
New participatory approaches to regional development are established in eight governorates.
The initiative focuses on the eight governorates of Béja, Jendouba, Médenine, Kairouan, Kasserine, Kef, Sidi Bouzid and Siliana. The project is supporting the transparent and participatory implementation of more than 60 projects that are based on the new development plans. In this way, it is helping to establish the new participatory approach to regional development while supporting its practical implementation. The initiative is active in two fields of action:
- Support for authorities and selection committees in the selection, management and monitoring of the projects.
- Support for public administration, the private sector and civil society organisations in the design and implementation of projects.
In the eight governorates, the initiative promotes political participation and democratic development from the bottom up. It reinforces the trust of the population in the state and public administration. In the long term, this reduces the existing potential for conflict. At the same time, implementing effective development projects helps to stabilise the economic situation in the eight governorates and directly improves the living conditions of the population.
The lead executing agency of the project is the Tunisian Ministry of Development, Investment and International Cooperation (Ministère du Développement, de l’Investissement et de la Coopération Internationale; MDiCI) with its main Regional Development division. The implementation partners at regional level are MDiCI’s regional development directorates and its supraregional North West (ODNO) and Centre West (ODCO) development offices.
The project is part of a special initiative designed to stabilise and promote development in North Africa and the Middle East (the MENA region) run by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Through the projects that make up this special initiative, BMZ is helping to open up economic and social prospects for people in this region. Within this context, an additional sum of more than EUR 300 million has been earmarked for projects in the period from 2014 to 2021. The thematic focus is on youth and employment promotion, economic stabilisation, democracy and stabilising neighbouring countries in crisis situations.
- The projects listed in the development plans affect all areas of people’s lives, including the development of infrastructure such as educational institutions and youth centres, the promotion of agriculture and the improvement of the health care system.
- Eight local health centres have been redecorated. A mammography centre and an accident and emergency department have been renovated, and a rehabilitation facility for children with disabilities has been refurbished. Medical equipment such as electrocardiographs, dentist’s chairs and three ambulances have been purchased.
- Seven primary schools in rural areas are being renovated. This will benefit more than 1,500 schoolchildren. Sanitary facilities are being modernised, classrooms repaired, and sports fields and schoolyards redesigned. Another six primary schools have received new school canteens.
- A total of 50 school canteens have been equipped with refrigerators to ensure that the quality of food is high even in very hot weather. As a result, the children can be better provided with meals, and families have an additional incentive to send their children to school.
- Of the regional development projects already funded, 13 focus on supporting women in particular.