Tunisia has a recent history of political regime change and the emergence of democracy. It finds itself struggling with several social and economic issues, such as homelessness in Tunisia. This problem is exacerbated by the congruence of growing unemployment and declining tourism.
What the Problem Is
The problem of homelessness in Tunisia is likely quantifiable, but no official statistics exist regarding the homeless population in the country. One survey from 2014 conducted by a private organization estimated that 3,000 individuals in Tunisia are homeless. It also warned that the number is continually increasing. The survey found that the majority of homeless individuals reside in interior and marginalized regions. These regions can be attributed to steep rent prices in the country’s major cities.
Tunisia’s rocky political environment and its effect on tourism may be contributing to homelessness. Tunisia’s position as an emerging democracy following the Arab Spring in 2011 has resulted in instability. Although the country’s people were successful in ousting the Ben Ali regime, the country’s economy has paid the price. The tourism industry has struggled due to the ongoing threat of terrorism. This is resulting in rising unemployment rates, especially for young people. The overall unemployment rate is 15.4%, and for higher education graduates, this number increased to 31.2%. Additionally, issues of unemployment disproportionately affect women, especially those who hold college degrees. 20.7% of college-degreed men are unemployed while for women it is 41%.
Efforts to Reduce Homelessness in Tunisia
The problem of homelessness in Tunisia requires steps to correct it. The Tunisian government has recognized its own responsibility in providing adequate housing for citizens. It does this through its ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). By ratifying the ICESCR, Tunisia committed to improving living conditions for all, notably. It takes responsibility to put adequate policies into place in order to defend the right to housing, nutrition and health for all.
More Efforts Battling Homelessness
Additionally, there are also efforts toward assisting the homeless in major Tunisian cities. The Tunisian Ministry of Social Affairs has established Centers for Social Guidance and Training in order to assist the homeless population. Additionally, the Ministry launched a mobile social assistance team. This team goes out into the streets of Tunisia outside of working hours in order to assist homeless individuals without income. The team consists of a psychologist, a sociologist, a first-aid worker and a nurse assistant. They provide food, clothing and first aid services while searching for temporary housing for the individual. The Ministry of Social Affairs estimates that since the program’s inception in 2015, nearly 540 individuals have been helped.
By providing adequate housing for all of its citizens, Tunisia carries on the work it began in the Arab Spring in 2011. The revolution that occurred was a rejection of the indignity and inequality that the Tunisian people faced for years under Ben Ali. This indignity and inequality continues to exist, and the eradication of homelessness will bring Tunisia one step closer to achieving the goals it established in 2011.
– Addison Collins
Photo: Randa MEPI