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Supporting citizen engagement in the political transition and encouraging equitable, responsive, and legitimate governance.
After a month of youth-led protests fueled by socioeconomic pressures, corruption, and political repression, Tunisians toppled President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011, ushering in a wave of political excitement and uncertainty. While initial steps have been taken toward building a more participatory democracy, a sense of marginalization is pervasive outside the capital Tunis. Despite continued efforts to make their views heard through existing political channels, citizens feel ignored by decision-makers, driving people to the streets to protest and demand change at a quicker pace.
In this window of opportunity, USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) began a program to support Tunisia's transition process. Encouraged by a new sense of freedom, civil society organizations (CSOs) are forming and pushing their agendas forward. Non-governmental organizations are helping to shape the future at this crucial juncture in Tunisia's transition by documenting abuses, highlighting the role of youth in the Revolution, organizing civic education activities, and implementing modest local economic-development projects.
The USAID/OTI program seeks to support the citizen-led democratic reform movement and national efforts toward achieving more equitable, responsive, and legitimate governance. The program will provide material and technical support to emerging CSOs and local institutions to help build democratic resiliency and increase citizen initiative and participation in democratic life. These efforts aim to give force to demands for transparency and accountability in decision-making and bolster positive change.
To foster the space required for true democratic change to take hold, the program works with local groups to identify and respond to community-prioritized needs. Activities will vary depending on the nature and scope of community needs. Activities can include providing logistical support for hosting information sessions on democracy, providing material for voter education, and assisting civic organizations that promote participation in the democratic process. Support will not be provided for any political party or individual and will concentrate on the following two objectives:
Encouraging new and emerging groups to contribute to the democratic reform process. A key component of these efforts is supporting local organizations to conduct outreach and awareness activities on topics related to democratic transitions, including basic democracy, the importance of citizen participation, the voting process, and the rights of the individual.
Helping build confidence in the transition through community development projects. The program supports small-scale community improvement projects that complement dialogue activities by targeting areas where the sense of economic marginalization might challenge a stable political transition. Community groups will identify projects and take responsibility for their planning and implementation.
The program operates countrywide, with specific focus on marginalized regions. Activities will support the efforts of CSOs, media groups, and associations to organize platforms for citizens to convey priorities to local government and national reform entities and engage with decision makers.
Last updated: May 17, 2013
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