Education in TunisiaTunisia is a small country in Northern Africa with a population of 11.5 million people. Both Arabic and French play a large role in Tunisian culture and both are considered primary languages of instruction in schools. Education in Tunisia is an important part of society and is compulsory until the age of 16. The following seven facts about education in Tunisia further illuminate the country’s challenges and initiatives to improve the current system and community.

Seven Facts about Education in Tunisia

  1. While Tunisia’s education is influenced by the French system, an emphasis on Arabic language and culture is prioritized within schools. After gaining independence from France in 1956, Tunisian education has seen significant Arabization since the 1970s. In recent years, however, there has been yet another cultural shift marked by the demand for English speakers within the workplace. As a result, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research partnered with the British council in 2016 to offer English speaking certificates within their Tunisian universities in order to increase employability for Tunisians at home and abroad.
  2. Schools in Tunisia are overseen by the Tunisian Ministry of Education and Training. There are three main levels of schooling: basic, secondary and higher education. In 1991, the Tunisian government passed the New Education Act which lengthened the duration of the basic and secondary levels to 13 years.
  3. The Tunisian government has also significantly invested in a pre-primary level of education intended for children from ages 3-5. These exist in two forms: traditional kindergartens and kouttabs, which are supervised by the Ministry of Women, Family and Childhood and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, respectively. In traditional kindergartens, children follow a standard curriculum. In contrast, kouttabs, the educational focus is on religion. From 1987 to 2007, the number of kouttabs has nearly tripled from 278 to 961. Though there is no data comparing the enrollment between kindergartens and kouttabs, this increase in the number of kouttabs does reveal higher levels of enrollment today.
  4. According to UNESCO, Tunisia spends about 6.2 percent of its GDP on education. Many modern technologies used in Tunisian classrooms today are funded by major organizations such as the World Bank, Microsoft and Apple. This has seen an especially significant impact at the University of Tunis: 20 percent of its courses have been offered online in the last 15 years. This has also increased the number of students able to complete their education by allowing them to work part-time while earning their degrees, an impactful solution in addressing Tunisan educational reforms.
  5. The government’s recent initiatives to improve the education system after independence can be seen in the discrepancies between the older and younger Tunisian generations. According to UNESCO, the literacy rate between 15-24-year-olds was 96.1 percent in comparison to 39.77 percent of those 65 and older as of 2014. To address this issue, the National Adult Education Programme was created in 2000. In the first three years of its existence, the program grew from 107,000 participants to 165,000.
  6. In 2016, the Tunisian government released the Strategic Plan for the Education Sector, detailing intended reforms spanning the next four years. The plan identifies its primary goal: reducing dropout rates to be addressed by “improving teacher training, upgrade curricula and infrastructure, as well as… enhance [the] framework for private sector partnerships.”
  7. According to UNESCO, the education rate between young men and women in Tunisia is almost equal: In 2007, 96.7 percent of girls and 95.5 percent of boys were recorded to be in school. That being said, however, traditional Tunisian cultural norms have heavily influenced the employability of educated women who have a harder time finding work than their lesser-educated counterparts. The World Bank reports that “the unemployment rate has remained around 15.5 percent and is particularly high among women (22.8 percent), graduates (29.4 percent) and in poor regions.”

The World Bank estimates that Tunisia’s economy is projected to grow 4 percent in the next year, which it states is “contingent on the completion of pressing reforms to improve the investment climate and ensure social stability.” These seven facts about education in Tunisia highlight these issues, and ensuring that they are addressed, Tunisia is sure to flourish for years to come.

– Jordan Powell
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tunisia
Tunisia, a small North African country, is often seen as a success story of the Arab uprisings after making strides towards consolidating its democracy. However, the economic woes that triggered the 2011 revolts have yet to be addressed and some citizens are unable to access sufficient nutrients as a result. These top 10 facts about hunger in Tunisia outline the issues that the country faces today in regards to food insecurity.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Tunisia

  1. There are a handful of factors that negatively impact Tunisia’s most vulnerable citizens’ access to a nutritional, balanced diet. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), those include a stagnant economy, high unemployment rates, regional disparities and dependence on cereal imports. Approximately 28 percent of the country’s rural-dwelling citizens are poor, coming out to around one million people.
  2. Due to the arid, dry nature of Tunisia’s location, water scarcity is a major roadblock when it comes to the country’s agricultural production. The International Development Research Centre reports that the country must import most of its basic foods and all of its livestock feed and focus its own agricultural efforts on high-value crops for export. Financial, technical and climate conditions are all major factors that impede an increase in domestic food production. Because of these conditions, Tunisia is heavily dependent on foreign trade for food.
  3. Food waste is a serious problem. Bread is the most wasted product with around 16 percent going uneaten. The Tunisian National Institute for Consumption states that food waste represents around 5 percent of food expenditures per year, coming out to the equivalent of about $197 million. The average family loses $7 on food waste per month.
  4. Tunisians most vulnerable to facing hunger are those living in rural areas, in the Central West and North West regions, as well as women and children. Poverty rates exceed 32 percent in the country’s Central West and North West regions. In addition, low-income rural households headed by women are especially at risk of hunger. Although physical access to food is virtually guaranteed nation-wide, economic barriers, such as price inflation and unemployment, pose a serious threat in achieving it.
  5. Hunger in Tunisia has led to some of its citizens facing a plethora of nutritional ailments. The most prominent of those include deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and obesity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that anemia, or iron deficiency, was estimated at 31.2 percent for women of reproductive age (15-49) in 2016. Rates of this disorder in this demographic have been steadily increasing since 2010. According to the FAO, approximately 27.3 percent of the country’s adult population (over 18) was considered obese in 2016. This number is over 10 percent higher than in 2000.
  6. With a score of 7.9 out of 50, Tunisia has a low level of hunger according to the 2018 Global Hunger Index (GHI), and this number continues to trend downwards. In other words, fewer and fewer Tunisians go hungry each year. This an improvement from moderate levels of hunger recorded in 2000 when Tunisia had a score of 10.7. In 2018, the country was ranked 28th out of 119 qualifying countries. The GHI score is calculated based on four indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. As the score has improved over the last two decades, this indicates that these factors have been decreasing in frequency and that hunger in Tunisia is improving.
  7. Prevalence of stunting in children under the age of 5 has decreased by 5.7 percent since the year 2000 according. Currently, 10.9 percent of children of this category is considered to have stunted growth, meaning that their growth is below normal due to prolonged malnutrition. While the percentage of children affected has fallen since 2000, it is slowly on the incline, rising from 9 percent in 2005 to 10.9 percent last year.
  8. The mortality rate for children under the age of 5 is decreasing. Death is the most serious consequence of hunger, and children are the most vulnerable group. However, the percentage of children losing their lives before their fifth birthdays has more than halved since 2000, dropping from 3.4 percent to just 1.4 percent in 2018.
  9. Government-run National School Meals Programs to combat hunger in Tunisia reach approximately 260,000 children per month. Tunisia’s investment in school meals that reaches 125,000 girls and 135,000 boys in around 2,500 schools is fully funded by the government and totaled the equivalent of $13.2 million in the 2014/15 school year. The Tunisian government has also allocated the equivalent of $1.7 million for the construction and equipment of a pilot central kitchen and a first School Food Bank hub.
  10. Over the past two decades, Tunisian agriculture has made significant progress. The most notable improvements are achieving self-sufficiency in products such as milk, meat, fruit and vegetables, limiting import dependence and strengthening the country’s presence in foreign markets as a result of the good quality-price ratio of its products.

Overall, as demonstrated by these top 10 facts about hunger in Tunisia, the situation in the country is improving. Fewer people are, according to the data, going without food every year, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. The efforts today appear to be more concentrated on the nutritional density of food available than its access. While no situation is perfect, Tunisia has made and is still making strides towards minimizing food insecurity within its borders.

– Chelsey Crowne
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Tunisia
While there is still more work to be done in decreasing employment rates and making housing more affordable, the North African country of Tunisia has made significant strides in improving the living conditions for its citizens. Substantial developments have been made in moving towards universal health care and bolstering Tunisia’s education system. In the article below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Tunisia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Tunisia

  1. More work still needs to be done in increasing employment rates for youth and women in the country. Youth employment is one of the main issues that Tunisia faces. One solution is to enhance the capacity for job creation in the formal private sector. The unemployment rate of youth aged from 15 to 30 is higher than 30 percent. The unemployment rate for women is even more than this percentage in some areas. The percentage of the labor force with a college degree increased from 10 percent to 16 percent from 2000 to 2010, and this percentage keeps increasing. One issue facing those who are educated is that their quality of education does not meet the skills required for certain jobs.
  2. Some more progress can be made in Tunisia in decreasing the unemployment rate. In Tunisia, the unemployment rate increased from 15.40 percent in the second quarter of 2018 to 15.50 percent in the third quarter of 2018. The overall unemployment rate in Tunisia was 15.36 percent on average from 2005 to 2018. The largest percentage of the unemployment rate was 18.90 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the lowest was 12.80 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007.
  3. Some progress has been made in increasing country’s GDP that has helped to ameliorate living conditions in Tunisia. From  2000 to 2014, Tunisia’s GDP increased from $21.47 billion to $47.59 billion. However, in the last few years, GDP decreased, and was at $40.25 billion in 2017.
  4. Significant strides have been made in decreasing poverty and extreme poverty. From 1995 to 2010, Tunisia has drastically reduced poverty from one million to 0.2 million people. From 2000 to 2015, poverty has decreased from 25 percent to 15 percent, respectively. In addition, extreme poverty has decreased to 3 percent in 2015 from 7.5 percent in 2000.
  5. Economic policies were implemented to decrease poverty in the country and they are the main reason why there was a decrease in poverty during periods where there was no economic growth.
  6. More work still needs to be done in making housing more affordable. Some issues households in Tunisia face is inflation and the small number of microfinance for housing, hindering the access to finance. The primary ways the government helps households finance affordable housing is through financial subsidies.
  7. The Ministry of Health governs the public health care system in Tunisia, bolstered by numerous public institutions. There are three levels of care in Tunisia: primary, made up of 81 clinics and 2,091 basic health centers, secondary, made up of 109 district hospitals, and tertiary, made up of 33 regional hospitals and 24 modern specialized centers and teaching hospitals. The public sector is the main health care provider in Tunisia, providing for 87 percent of hospital bed capacity, totaling to 31,936 beds.
  8. There have been substantial developments in Tunisia in moving towards universal health care coverage, which is in part demonstrated by the work of the National Health Insurance Fund. The annual health care spending in 2013 totaled to 7.1 percent of the country’s GDP. Thirty-seven percent of the cost was spent by Tunisian households, 35 percent was spent by the National Health Insurance Fund and 28 percent was spent by the government.
  9. The Tunisian government places a strong emphasis on education. There are three levels of education in Tunisia that are basic education, secondary education and higher education. The government sees the value in education for growing its human resources and has made primary education mandatory and at free of costs.
  10. Due to the decreasing quality of education and high unemployment rates of young graduates, the government is striving to overhaul its education system. After the 2011 revolution that marked the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Government of Tunisia has been endeavoring to make reforms in a Strategic Plan for the Education Sector 2016-2020. The objectives of the five-year plan are strengthening quality standards through teacher training, bolstering curriculum and infrastructure and improving the framework for private sector partnerships.

There has been significant progress in ameliorating the living conditions in Tunisia. While still more strides can and must be made in decreasing employment rates and making housing more affordable, the country has increased its GDP substantially, decreased poverty and extreme poverty as well. With more effort, a bright future is on the horizon for further improving living conditions in Tunisia.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Tunisia
Illiteracy rates and education levels for females in many Arab or Islamic nations are among the lowest in the world. This occurrence is often due to active suppression by theocracies, but 
Tunisia is an oddball in the case of Arab/Islamic countries in terms of the level of girls education. 

Girls’ Education in Tunisia

Tunisia has one of the highest female literacy rates amongst predominantly Islamic countries. In fact, 96.1 percent of females in Tunisia are literate — a statistic unheard of in multiple regions of the world. Girls’ education in Tunisia reflects the openness of the nation as opposed to its regional counterparts, and females within this nation actually rank higher than males. For example, females have a higher school participation rate than males, and girls actually last longer (meaning they drop out less) in primary school than males. Such dedication to academics is promising to not only these girls’ personal well-being, but also to their work and home successes.

These examples of gender equality and female success are rare in Arab and Islamic regions, as much of theocratic culture tends to prefer and adhere to a male-dominated society. In Tunisia, males may have higher enrollment rates than females, but females are either equal or dominant to males in terms of academic performance in school — except for literacy. Even in this respect, there is only a 2 percent difference between the genders, which is again unprecedented in predominantly Islamic countries. 

The Long Game

The high level of female education in Tunisia did not happen overnight. Prior to the 2011 overthrow of the Ben Ali regime, these trends of increases in female education were apparent because the Tunisian government actively took steps to decrease gender inequality to improve their overarching socioeconomic development.

Tunisian women have a higher level of rights than their regional neighbors. Article 21 of the 2014 Tunisian constitution stipulates that: “Male and female citizens are equal in rights and duties. They are equal before the law without any discrimination.” This aspect of gender equality should act as an example for numerous countries across the globe, in both the developed and developing worlds.

Steps for Improvement

This is not to say that Tunisia is a reservoir of egalitarianism. Abuse against women is disturbingly high — 70 percent of women are the victims of abuse in Tunisia. However, much has been done in recent years to attempt to mitigate such occurrences, including a law passed by the Tunisian parliament specifically aimed at reducing levels of abuse against women.

Tunisia is very liberal in terms of girls education, though, and continually makes strides in improving other human rights offenses against girls. Tunisia is learning that educating and empowering females brings a nation numerous benefits and resources otherwise unattainable.

From decreasing poverty, improving the economy and developing a more harmonious society, Tunisia’s prioritization of female education is admirable and bound for success. Tunisia’s future looks much more liberal and altruistic than many of its regional counterparts, and only time will tell if this optimistic hope proves out for the country. 

– Daniel Lehewych
Photo: Google

US Investments Strengthening Education in Tunisia

The United States has invested $100 million in strengthening education in Tunisia, Africa. The project, known as Strengthening Foundations for Learning, is designed to support the government in addressing major challenges in primary education.

What Will the Project Do?

The main goal is to direct resources toward key areas for a transformative impact on student learning. The project will focus on expanding access to quality early childhood education, strengthening literacy and numeracy in the early grades, improving teacher skills and improving school management, accountability and student assessment.

Investment in high-quality early childhood education is one of the most cost-efficient investments in human capital. These investments have been linked to significant improvement in primary education grade promotion, reduction in repetition and dropout rates.

“By investing in education, Tunisia is investing in the future,” says Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb. “Quality basic education is a way of giving children the opportunity to become active participants in the transformation of the societies in which they live, and to contribute to future growth and prosperity.”

Who Will the Project Benefit?

The Strengthening Foundations for Learning Project will improve learning conditions in public preschools and primary schools. Increasing access to public preschool education in selected districts will be a main focus as well as strengthening management practices in education. The project aims to empower school leaders and instructional staff to work collaboratively to raise student achievement by strengthening education in Tunisia.

The direct project beneficiaries include an estimated 1,144,000 students attending public preschools and primary schools. Another 64,000 primary school teachers will benefit from improved opportunities for professional development. Furthermore, 5,360 primary school directors and deputy directors, 615 pedagogical inspectors and 850 pedagogical counselors will benefit from this project.

“Tunisia has successfully addressed issues of access to schooling, having achieved universal primary education and gender parity more than two decades ago, but the quality of education has suffered and students need to be supported in developing strong foundational skills,” says Michael Drabble, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and co-Task Team Leader.

What Does Strengthening Education in Tunisia Mean?

There are four core components attached to this project investment for strengthening education in Tunisia:

  1. Improving quality and increasing supply of public preschool education at an estimated total cost of $19.6 million.
  2. Improving learning conditions in public primary schools at an estimated total cost of $46.6 million.
  3. Strengthening management practices in the education sector at an estimated total cost of $32.5 million.
  4. Project Management Support at an estimated total cost of $1.3 million.

“Teachers need access to relevant and well-designed professional development programs to help them adapt new instructional methods to boost learning in the classroom. Well-prepared and committed school leaders are needed to turn around poor performing schools,” says Samira Halabi, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and co-Task Team Leader of the project.

This type of investment will provide unprecedented strengthening of education in Tunisia benefiting thousands of primary education students. Tunisia has a total of 2,199,000 students enrolled in primary and secondary education. Of these students, about 1,047,000, or 48 percent, are enrolled in primary education.

In Tunisia, the primary net enrollment rate is 99 percent and the primary completion rate is 102 percent. Both of these indicators provide a sense of the progress the country is making toward universal primary education.

The United States investment in Strengthening Foundations for Learning is a generous one with only beneficial outcomes. Continuously strengthening education in Tunisia is only going to provide better education and more access so that the country can grow and improve.

– Richard Zarrilli
Photo: Flickr

Improving Women’s Rights in TunisiaWhile Tunisia has the most progressive laws on women’s rights in relation to other parts of the Arab world, patriarchal values still persist. In 2010, a study from the Tunisian government revealed that many of the country’s women are sexually, verbally and physically abused. However, improving women’s rights in Tunisia has become an initiative for many organizations.

The U.N.’s Work to Represent Women in Politics

In June 2016, Tunisia’s parliament approved an amendment to ensure a greater representation of women in local politics. Applying to regional and municipal elections, the amendment included a proposal for “horizontal and vertical” gender parity in Article 49 of Tunisia’s electoral law. This also marked the first time that 73 Tunisian female parliamentarians (from different backgrounds, parties and political ideologies) conducted their own lobbying in favor of the horizontal and vertical parity.

“Besides being a first in our region, the adoption of horizontal and vertical parity in electoral law is a timely achievement because it will guarantee effective participation of women in the upcoming decentralization process in Tunisia,” said Leila Rhiwi, the U.N. Women Representative from Maghreb. In March 2016, U.N. Women also began a project with Tunisia’s parliamentarians that would support the implementation of the women’s caucus. This will work toward improving women’s rights in Tunisia by increasing their representation in local and national politics.

Aswat Nissa Training Tunisia’s Women For Political Lives

Many Tunisian women find ways to exercise the power given to them by the country’s progressive laws. Some of these ways include Tunisian women attending political academies that began after the country’s Arab Spring revolution in 2011. In October 2016, the political academy Aswat Nissa was revealed to hold monthly training sessions for Tunisian women who enter political roles.

Aswat Nissa teaches Tunisian women many necessary political skills, including how to debate effectively and draft gender-sensitive budgets. Aswat Nissa enrolled forty Tunisian women in 2016.

“I have visited parliament before, but when you’re an assembly member, it’s something else. You are part of this world,” said Aswat Nissa graduate Karima Tagaz.

Tunisia’s New Law Against Gender-Based Violence

In October 2016, Tunisia’s parliament debated a bill to strengthen legislation on violence against women. The bill would be incorporated into Tunisia’s legislative and government policies, defining gender-based violence, outlawing marital rape and increasing penalties for sexual harassment in the workplace. The bill was approved on July 26, 2017, and served as a landmark step toward improving women’s rights in Tunisia.

“By enacting this new law, the Tunisian authorities have shown a commitment to the rights of women and are setting a standard that many others would do well to follow,” said Amna Guellali, Tunisia’s office director at Human Rights Watch. The new law included requirements to assist Tunisia’s victims of domestic violence, providing them with legal and medical support. Tunisia’s authorities intend to ensure adequate funding and political will to fully place the new law into effect.

A Proposal For Tunisian Women to Share in Inheritance

In January 2018, the Committee on Individual Freedoms and Equality (CIFE) planned a proposal for Tunisia’s women to share in men’s inheritance and pass their family name onto their children.

“Tunisia is once again pioneering and irreversibly moving toward advancement,” Bochra Bel Haj Hmida, CIFE’s chairwoman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “All discriminatory laws in the family space and public space are included in the commission’s tasks.”

CIFE’s proposed bill will also ban dowries, allowing Tunisia’s men and women to share their roles as head of the household. CIFE planned to present its recommendations to Tunisia’s president on Feb. 20, 2018, but requested a postponement until after municipal elections on May 6. The news site ANSAmed said that CIFE did not want its proposal to become an issue of electoral tension.

Tunisia’s parliament, the U.N. and CIFE have made much progress in strengthening the representation of Tunisia’s women in politics and protecting their freedom. Many groups will continue working toward improving women’s rights in Tunisia.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in Tunisia Boosts Economic GrowthCredit access in Tunisia has recently helped boost the country’s struggling economy by fostering the development of small businesses. Still, investment in improved credit access remains an active task.

Obtaining Credit Access in Tunisia

Currently, obtaining credit in Tunisia as an individual or as a small business consists of a lengthy, arguably difficult process.

“The overall offer of inclusive financial services in Tunisia remains fragmented, incomplete and difficult to access,” according to a 2015 World Bank report.

Very small, small and medium enterprises (VSSME) face various obstacles in obtaining credit. This includes “a heavy reliance on collateral, insufficient financial products and a lack of SME transparency,” a release by the Middle East Investment Initiative (MEII) reported.

Franchises have also begun popping up throughout the country. This began occurring after the overhaul of the old regime that stifled the ability to create them. Former policies discouraged foreign countries from opening enterprises in Tunisia, making it nearly impossible for franchises to exist. Now that these policies have changed, franchises have a chance to flourish in the Tunisian market.

Individuals seeking credit may also find it difficult to obtain, even though studies have found that between 950,000 and 1.4 million people have a demand for it. This has led to most Tunisians relying on personal, often unstable, lending methods such as borrowing from friends or family.

In fact, only about 36 percent of the adult population finances through formal lending methods. A 2015 study by the World Bank and the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) found that 64 percent of the population has little to no access to formal financial services.

For families, expanding credit access in Tunisia directly affects household consumption and employment. It also gives VSSMEs and developing franchises a boost, allowing them to grow their businesses. This, in turn, creates jobs and stimulates the economy.

Organizations Working to Expand Credit Access

Partnering organizations have worked to expand credit access among Tunisian businesses. This has been achieved through projects designed to ease the process of credit access in Tunisia. MEII and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) established the Tunisian Credit Guarantee Facility (TCGF) to help provide sustainable lending to Tunisian VSSMEs and franchises.

TCGF intends to increase cash-flow lending. It boasts a $1 million loan size limit, $50 million guarantee facility and 70 percent loan principal guarantee plus up to six months’ interest. Participating banks also receive technical assistance.

Many international donors support the expansion of credit access in Tunisia. This includes the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank Group/IFC.

Although improving credit access in Tunisia will not directly eliminate poverty, it plays an important role in stimulating social and economic growth. By investing in the increase of accessible credit, the Tunisian government and supporting organizations can help to improve the quality of life of the population and foster economic growth throughout the country.

– Francesca Colella

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in tunisia
Tunisia has relied on tourism as its primary source of income, but recent shifts toward more sustainable agriculture in Tunisia have instilled hope in maintaining the economy, especially by rural families.

The recent threat of terrorist attacks has discouraged tourists from traveling to Tunisia, which has led to a painful hit on the country’s economy. Such an economic shift has negatively impacted previously successful efforts toward eliminating poverty. In just 10 years, Tunisia successfully slashed its poverty rate in half, dropping from 32.4 percent in 2000 to 15.5 percent in 2010; but after the 2011 revolution, progress flatlined.

The Food and Agriculture Organization

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s (FAO) priorities for Tunisia include introducing efficient agricultural practices, spreading awareness of climate change and how to navigate it, and helping the government to develop policies and strategies that improve agriculture.

FAO follows its Country Programming Framework (CPF) in assisting the growth of sustainable agriculture in Tunisia. By working together to support sustainable agriculture, FAO and the Tunisian government hope to rebuild the economy and reduce poverty rates. The CPF for 2015 to 2019 lists three pillars to its strategy:

  • Democratic governance
  • ­An inclusive, sustainable and resilient economic model
  • ­Social protection and equitable access to quality social services

Providing job stability in the growing field of sustainable agriculture in Tunisia should draw in more youth employment, tackling the unemployment issue that has contributed to several recent political protests throughout the region.

Improvements and Future Projects

As of 2008, agriculture already accounts for 16 percent of the total labor force and 27 percent of the rural labor force, according to a report by the World Bank. The Sustainable Agriculture Carbon Project, conceived in 2013, intends to stabilize agricultural work, maximize sustainable usage of the land, and provide stable access to water, infrastructure and basic services.

Various countries have already begun to shift their focus toward sustainable agriculture. In Tunisia, the need for a more stable economic focus has grown since the decline of the tourism industry — advancing agriculture can provide that stability in the economy that Tunisia needs.

– Francesca Colella

Photo: Flickr


Of the countries in the Arab world, Tunisia has proven itself among the most westernized. Still, it struggles to maintain a steady economy, especially during a time plagued with fear of extremist attacks and civil unrest. Because tourism remains the number one industry in Tunisia, the country’s entire economy has taken a significant hit in recent years.

Now more than ever, efforts toward humanitarian aid to Tunisia have reason to increase. Countries across the globe have stepped forward to provide assistance ever since the people initiated the Arab Spring and overthrew their former president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in January 2011. While some have provided one-time aid, others continue to help build the country today.

Global Humanitarian Aid Efforts

China responded to the state of emergency by March 2011, offering $2 million in cash to the country along with $4.6 million worth of materials such as food, tents, blankets, medicine and power generators. China delivered these materials in two major shipments, providing relief to thousands of people.

Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC), an organization from Bologna that focuses on international development aid, has continually provided humanitarian aid to Tunisia since 2011.

The organization has focused on responding to the refugee and migration crises, building and expanding rural communities, and empowering Tunisian women to play an active role in civil organizations and the economy.

Recently, GVC has partnered with EU Aid Volunteers in Action, an organization established by the European Union for humanitarian operations. Both have partnered with the MENA Seminar, hosted by the Fibre to the Home Council Middle East and North Africa (FTTH). The conference exists to promote adoption of high-speed networks throughout the Middle East.

“Creating a sustainable future is not just about protecting the environment, but it is also about wider benefits to society and its citizens, and the economic health of communities and nations,” a representative from FTTH said. These sorts of efforts toward quality of life improvement help to build a foundation for long-term growth and relief.

The United States Aid Efforts

In the meantime, the U.S. has also committed itself to humanitarian aid to Tunisia. The United States Agency for International Development, a government agency that directly deals with the fight against global poverty, has provided nearly $300 million to support Tunisia’s economic growth and democracy since 2011.

The U.S. Embassy in Tunisia gives a platform to those who wish to propose funding ideas for projects that help advance the country. Whether in education, economics, national security, or otherwise, it provides financial resources to fund project ideas. However, this funding is “extremely limited,” according to the embassy’s website.

The influx of humanitarian aid to Tunisia remains steady with devoted efforts from both governmental and non-governmental foreign organizations. However, the hopeful and determined attitude of the Tunisian people really makes these efforts successful. The citizens have a true desire to improve their general quality of life, and foreign aid, as well as domestic programs, provide the resources to boost Tunisians out of their economic slump and into a more comfortable state.

– Francesca Colella

Photo: Flickr

In December of 2010, high unemployment, limited economic opportunity, corruption in government offices and escalating food prices, brought about a string of deadly riots across the North African nation of Tunisia. The Tunisian people ousted their President, Ben Ali, in a bloodless coup d’état, and a “national unity government” was installed in his place. This new government appointed Mocef Marzouki, a well-known Tunisian human rights activist, as interim president. Since 2011, there has been a slew of development initiatives that are being undertaken in Tunisia in an attempt to improve the lives of all citizens. The World Bank Group is currently funding 22 active development projects in Tunisia. Here are five which you should know about.

1. Youth Economic Inclusion Project (2017-2024)

The Youth Economic Inclusion Project is an initiative to increase and improve the economic opportunities presented to young, disadvantaged, Tunisians. This project is connecting young Tunisians with job opportunities, and providing assistance in transitioning from being a student, or unemployed, to the working world. Another component of this project is to make an effort to increase job creation in Tunisia.

2. Road Transport Corridors Project (2015-2020)

This project aims to improve the condition of roads connecting the more developed regions of Tunisia with the lesser developed areas. This project will shorten travel times and substantially improve the safety of road travel across the country. The Road Transport Corridors Project has focused on widening and repaving roads, repairing bridges, and installing more road safety equipment.

3. Integrated Landscapes Management in Lagging Regions (2017-2024)

The goal of the Integrated Landscapes Management in Lagging Legions Project is to improve the use of natural resources in the lesser developed northwest and western regions of the country. With a focus on sustainability, this project will improve the efficiency of land and natural resource use, as well as improve existing agricultural practices and infrastructure.

4. Northern Tunis Wastewater Project (2010-2019)

In the northern reaches of the city of Tunis, there is currently a lack of proper wastewater management infrastructure. This project pays special consideration to the environmental impacts of wastewater management and seeks to increase the amount and quality of treated wastewater available for use to farmers in regards to their agricultural activities.

5. The National Network of Social Accountability (2014-2018)

This project aims to bring Tunisia closer to becoming a developed nation through three main objectives. The first is to increase the availability and reliability of public information on government activity and expenditures. Second, there is an initiative to increase competition between businesses to expand the Tunisian economy. The last aspect of this development project in Tunisia is to focus on improving the quality and availability of healthcare for low-income Tunisians.

It is evident that these active development projects in Tunisia are working to ensure the improved livelihoods of citizens in various ways.

 – Tyler Troped

Photo: Flickr