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Tunisia Revolution
TUNISIA, SIDI BOUZID : A person capped with a Tunisian flag walks past a statue representing the cart of Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruitseller whose self-immolation sparked the revolution and ignited the Arab Spring, on December 17, 2011.



After a month of youth-led protests fueled by socioeconomic pressures, corruption and political repression, Tunisians toppled President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, ushering in a wave of political excitement and uncertainty. While initial steps were taken toward building a more participatory democracy, a sense of marginalization was pervasive outside the capital, Tunis. Despite continued efforts to make their views heard through existing political channels, citizens felt ignored by decision-makers, driving people to the streets to protest and demand change at a quicker pace. In this window of opportunity, USAID/OTI began a program in May 2011 to support Tunisia's transition process.


USAID/OTI sought to support Tunisians in their pursuit of a democratic society and more equitable, responsive and legitimate governance. In particular, the program provided material and technical support to communities, civil society organizations and local institutions to help build democratic resiliency, increase citizen participation in democratic life and bolster positive change. USAID/OTI’s primary objectives in Tunisia were to:

  • Buy time and create viable space for the transition to succeed; and
  • Foster constructive dialogue among Tunisians.


  • Encouraging new and emerging groups to contribute to the democratic reform process: A key component of these efforts was 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 supported small-scale community improvement projects that complemented dialogue activities by targeting areas where the sense of economic marginalization might challenge a stable political transition. Activities supported the efforts of civil society organizations, media groups and associations to organize platforms for citizens to convey priorities to local government and national reform entities and to engage with decision makers.
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