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First workshop in Tunis - What emergency social measures for a successful transition in Tunisia? Reflections from international experiences


In the aftermath of the so-called “jasmine revolution”, Tunisian authorities are seeking the most effective mechanisms to reduce social pressure and quickly boost the economy. Despite many public announcements, the Tunisian government, as the governments of the region, is struggling to find actionable solutions to contain economic and social despair. The aim is to give concrete pledges to the population by providing them with evidence of a controlled transition as well as “democratic dividends” in this historic moment.

In Tunisia the AMAL (“hope”) program, implemented since March 2011, provides the bulk of the government’s response to youth unemployment, and includes a large hand-out programme. The « AMAL II » program targets more particularly the non-qualified unemployed. However, several months will be necessary for the effective implementation of these measures.  


The AFD working paper on “social measures and release from crisis in Middle East and North Africa (MENA)” highlights a number of tensions between short and long term responses in this period of transition. It shows the importance, despite the urgent need to respond to social expectations, to question which kinds of social measures would be most relevant, and which procedures would best allow for their implementation. 


The Minister for Employment and Vocational Training has asked to benefit from the experience of social measures implemented in countries that have gone through similar social unrest in a context of socio-economic crisis. International experience confirm that the choice of the type of emergency social measures (ESM) and their modes of implementation greatly impacts their efficiency in the short and long terms. Sharing relevant international experiences would be likely to improve policy choices, and to ensure that the measures implemented can answer effectively the strong expectations of Tunisia’s youth. 

The objective of the workshop is to strengthen the AMAL programme on its "unqualified unemployed" component by providing, in the space of a one-day workshop, international experiences (best practices, methodology, risks, etc.) on "social measures" (high-labour intensity projects, quick impact projects, but also experiences in terms of "activation" of social spending and redistribution mechanisms between regions) - some of which are already in discussion between the donors and the government. The mobilization of a few key experts could be the occasion for short-term technical assistance in the days following the seminar.


Presentation of the workshop:

After a short presentation of the social and economic vulnerabilities which Tunisia is facing (tensions between need on short run and answer in long run), international experts will present the international experiments in terms of ESM. Some lessons learned via program evaluations will be presented. A discussion will then follow between the experts and the ministry Directors present, on what could be done to address the problems afflicting the low-skilled unemployed in Tunisia.


Stakes and objectives of workshop:

The workshop will focus on the following question: how to meet popular expectations in the short term without undermining structural reforms, which are essential to resolve the country’s socio-economic vulnerabilities in the long term.



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