Tunisia Transition Program

After a month of youth-led protests fueled by social and economic pressures, corruption, and political repression, the Tunisian president and several family members fled the country in January 2011, ushering in a wave of political excitement and uncertainty. Steps were taken toward building a more participatory democracy, but a sense of marginalization pervades the regions outside the capital, Tunis. Citizens across many backgrounds feel ignored by decision makers despite their efforts to be heard through existing political channels. Accordingly, momentum is building to develop a more robust civil society across Tunisia. Organizations are forming and pushing their agendas. Nongovernmental organizations are shaping the future at this crucial juncture by documenting abuses, highlighting the role of youth in the transition, organizing civic education activities, and implementing modest local economic development projects. Nonetheless, the political transition is vulnerable to countervailing forces. Our countrywide program focuses on marginalized regions. Activities support the efforts of civil society organizations, media groups, and associations to organize platforms through which citizens convey their priorities to local government and national reform entities. We are not supporting any particular political party or individual; rather, we are supporting constructive citizen engagement in the transition and encouraging positive interaction between the government and citizens.

Sample Activities

  • Provide material and technical support to emerging civil society organizations (CSO) and local institutions to build democratic resiliency and increase citizen initiative and participation in democratic life.
  • Work with local groups to identify and respond to community-prioritized needs that, in the short term, will foster the space required for true democratic change to take hold.
  • Provide logistical support for information sessions on democracy, material for voter education, and assistance to civic organizations that promote participation in the democratic process.

Select Results

  • Revitalized local community and youth centers in key districts of Tunis that had been closed since the Tunisian Revolution.
  • Helped establish the presence of civil society in new Tunisian government institutions, organized CSO input into the constitution, and improved CSO scrutiny of the activities of the National Constituent Assembly.
  • Established dialogue between youth and local governments on the political process in disaffected interior communities of Tunisia.

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development
Contract: 2011–2014