CRS in Tunisia
The Tunisian uprising of 2011 began as a spontaneous social protest against unemployment and social injustice. Against all predictions, the movement rapidly swept away an autocratic regime that had been in place for 23 years, and led to the country’s first free elections. Presidential and parliamentary elections, and the ratification of Tunisia’s constitution that followed in 2014, inspire cautious optimism that democracy has taken root, but the work of ruling has just begun.
Tunisia is working to operationalize the aspirations of its people in the face of economic and demographic challenges. This represents a profound opportunity—and need—for civil society organizations (CSOs). Robust CSOs can advocate for their beneficiaries to influence government actions ranging from legal decisions to social services to transparency. Furthermore, a new legal framework guaranteeing freedom of association has given new life to Tunisian civil society.
While great potential exists for civil society in Tunisia, a history of repression means that many of these organizations struggle with capacity and/or funding restraints, and are not well-coordinated. Furthermore, limited internal resources exist to strengthen capacity and reinforce networks among complementary organizations.
Through the Middle East-North Africa CSO Training and Organizational Development Response (MENTOR) project, Catholic Relief Services works with local partner, Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), to provide sustainable capacity strengthening support and resources for organizational development. The purpose of this support is to strengthen the capacity of TAMSS to support the growth of nascent CSOs. The MENTOR project also aims to establish and promote networks and linkages among CSOs working in similar issue areas, thus maximizing their impact and nurturing a vibrant civil society.
CRS is also supporting the institutional strengthening of local partner, Caritas Tunisia, whose work primarily focuses on providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrant workers and refugees in Tunisia.