Cities Alliance CDS Initiative in Tunisia to Expand to 365 Municipalities Nationwide
Tunisia has been undergoing a process of decentralisation since adopting a new constitution in 2014 that laid the groundwork for shifting power from the national to the local level. In 2018, the country took another important step towards decentralisation by establishing a Code on Local Governance (le code des collectivités locales), which sets out the responsibilities and jurisdictions of the municipalities.
As the decentralisation process moves forward, Tunisia’s cities are finding themselves entrusted with greater powers, and they are increasingly asked to support national urban priorities through local development.
This is a challenging prospect for Tunisian cities, especially those in lagging non-coastal regions. Over the years, most investment has gone to Tunisia’s coastal cities, where 75% of the country’s urban population lives and the bulk of its industry exists.
Many smaller inland cities and towns have largely been left behind, with unemployment rates far higher than those of coastal cities. The result has been large regional disparities in infrastructure, access to services, investment and job opportunities.
The Cities Alliance Tunisia Country Programme has been working to help these cities position themselves for inclusive growth, in part through the Madinatouna city development initiative, which has supported strategic city planning in eight mainly inland cities.
It has been so successful that the Tunisian government has decided to expand the Madinatouna CDS initiative to all 365 municipalities in the country. Cities Alliance is working with the FNVT, the Ministry of Local Affairs, and the Ministry of Habitat to establish a national task force to coordinate the implementation of CDSs throughout Tunisia with input and funding from partners, notably the World Bank.
The Cities Alliance will be an active member of the task force, working and coordinating with partners on the countrywide implementation of the CDSs. Through the Country Programme, we will continue to expand our support for strategic city planning activities to 24 cities.
Cities Alliance support for local finance reform
The Cities Alliance Country Programme is also helping Tunisia navigate the decentralisation process in other ways. After the Constitution and the Local Government Code, a third step towards decentralisation should be establishing a public finance and local taxation system for local governments. This would allow cities to have their own revenue resources to pay for the public goods and services they deliver to their populations and boost transparency by holding local governments accountable to residents for how they are spending public funds.
To this end, the Cities Alliance Tunisia Country Programme has been working with the national and local governments to initiate public finance and taxation reform, including proposing the establishment of a national commission to begin working on the issue of fiscal decentralisation. The central government, appreciating the urgency of tackling local finance, has agreed in principle to the creation of such a commission.
About the Madinatouna CDS initiative
It is supporting strategic city planning in eight mainly inland secondary cities: Béja, Gabès, Jendouba, Kairouan, Médenine, M’saken, Sidi Bouzid and Tataouine. A ninth city, La Soukra, used its own funds to join the process and take part in the learning and capacity building.
Each partner is supporting two cities in the process of developing city development strategies. A ninth city, La Soukra, used its own funds to join the process and take part in the learning and capacity building.
The partners worked together to create a common methodology based on previous CDS experiences in Sfax and Sousse, using the CDS 2.0 toolkit developed by the Cities Alliance Future Cities Africa initiative as inspiration.
More about the Tunisia Country Programme
Senior Urban Specialist Sandrine Capelle-Manuel briefly explains the key points of the Country Programme in these three videos:
City development strategies in the Tunisia Country Programme:
The Country Programme's support for Tunisia's lagging inland cities:
Expanding the Country Programme: