Greater Sfax Development Strategy (GSDS) – Phase 2



Approval Date
Actual Completion Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
Lesson Learned for Cities Alliance Members and Partners
• The GSDS was framed prior to the 2011 revolution, when Tunisia’s governance system was still highly centralised and the Ministry of Interior was responsible for municipal development. Since municipalities had limited powers, they had little incentive to take on additional responsibility. However, the persistence of Mayors of the seven municipalities in drafting and implementing the GSDS – and the strong leadership they provided – were critical to the success of the project. • The project provides a compelling example of a well-considered, coherent partnership at the local, regional, national and international level, with each partner playing a clearly defined role.Apart from the seven municipalities, domestic partners included the Ministry of Environment, Tunisian Association of Urban Planners, and the National Federation of Tunisian Cities. International partners comprised GIZ, Medcités, the World Bank and City of Barcelona. The large-scale, complex nature of the project involved a range of high-profile partners. This required careful coordination, patience and persistence. The international partners, namely CMI, Medcités, World Bank and CDC continue to support Greater Sfax in GSDS implementation. • For those involved in the CDS, the Greater Sfax experience demonstrates that building active participation is a time-consuming, yet rewarding, process. While physical results invariably take time, the Sfax leaders have nonetheless provided an important example of the power of participatory governance in a region long dominated by centralised and arbitrary decision-making. The next challenge is to share the Sfax experience within Tunisia, particularly in smaller towns in the interiors, as well as the region.


Sfax is Tunisia’s second-largest city after Tunis, and its commercial epicentre. For decades, its thriving manufacturing industry and large Mediterranean port made Sfax an attractive investment destination. However, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the city grappled with industrial stagnation, rising unemployment and other socio-economic challenges. These had a serious impact on the city’s growth trajectory. In response to this, the elected officials of the seven municipalities that make up the Greater Sfax metropolitan area – Sfax, Sakiet Eddaler, Sakiet Ezzit, Chihia, Gremda El Ain and Thyna – developed a Greater Sfax Development Strategy (GSDS) to revitalise the Sfax area through economic development. This project aims to operationalise this strategy by supporting the second phase of the GSDS. The second phase builds on the studies done during the first phase. It intends to focus on economic development of the Greater Sfax Metropolitan Area.
The grant is provided for the second phase of the project, which will build upon the studies produced during the first phase, in order to: 1. Develop an economic development strategy for Greater Sfax 2. Develop a strategy and launch three projects to reduce unemployment 3. Develop rehabilitation action plan for two affected neighborhoods – Medina and Rbat 4. Develop a proposal to enhance performance of public transport 5. Enhance local governance through promotion of inter-municipal projects, an urban observatory and a geographic information system (GIS)
1. Defining an economic development strategy for Greater Sfax, with the close involvement of business, industry associations, universities, and vocational training bodies. 2. Defining and implementing a local strategy to promote access to jobs for the population segments most affected by unemployment 3. Preparing an urban integration strategy in close collaboration with ARRU for the old city centers and the working-class urban areas with the greatest problems, placing special emphasis on local actions that can be undertaken without seeking financing for major investments include 4. Working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Transport to produce a report on improving the public transport system in Greater Sfax 5. Enhancing institutional steering and good local governance
Expected Impacts and Results
• The GSDS resulted in a strong partnership among the seven municipalities that make up the Greater Sfax Metropolitan Area. Mayors of these municipalities worked together with other stakeholders towards a common vision for the city. • The diagnostic studies formed a much-needed information base on under-served neighborhoods. This allowed local administration to better understand these areas and plan its interventions strategically. • The CDS went beyond the country’s established urban development framework by spelling out its own long-term vision for strategic development. The city’s action plan was so widely appreciated that some of its projects were included in Eleventh National Plan for socio-economic development. These included projects related to the upgrading of airport facilities, coastal area management and highway extension. More funding was made available to the low-income areas as well. For instance, in 2012, the Tunisian government pledged 8 million dinar (approximately USD 5 million) for infrastructure development in low-income areas of Sfax.