ACT History

History of ACT

With the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Association for Cooperation in Tunisia (ACT) was registered in Sweden in 1982 and subsequently with the Ministry of the Interior in Tunis (Visa No 27 15th January 1988). ACT continues to work under the Tuniso-Swedish inter-governmental agreement of 1973. Although some funding comes through SIDA, most funding is from other sources.


Under an agreement with the Ministry of Education the first project was started in 1983 in partnership with the National Union for Tunisian Women (UNFT) for a vocational training workshop teaching young women to make wooden toys. This was coupled with a preschool and centre for training pre-school teachers.

In 1986 a survey into health needs in the Sidi Bouzid region led to the development of a training programme for community health workers (animatrices de santé) under an agreement with the Ministry of Health and in partnership with the ONPF. Further work in primary health care extended to Kasserine and Gabes and ended in 2001. More recently ACT has been involved in promoting the development of palliative care.

Work in the area of special needs has been covered by an agreement with the Ministry for Social Affairs and started in 1991 with an agreement with APAHT in Sidi Bouzid and an integrated pre-school. Our collaboration with UTAIM commenced in 1993 in Sfax and has extended over the years to the South and North West. It has included a review of National Policy for training special educators at IPH, Tunis, production of a training manual, and a regular training programme for special educators. ACT promoted a school integration programme in Gabes (2004-2010), and projects on integration of adults with special needs into the workplace in Sidi Bouzid and Gabes (2002-2010).

Work in rural development started in the Sidi Bouzid region in 1998 through an evaluation of community needs in Jelma (using the technique of Rapid Participatory Evaluation). Through agreements with the CRDA, work has included collaborative work on hill lakes, supporting small initiatives in bee keeping, improving the efficiency of tabouna ovens, micro-credit and small animal husbandry. ACT worked in partnership with a local group AID (1998-2008). Since 2005 efforts have focused on improving small water sources in the Ain Jaffel area, tree planting, and reinforcing soil erosion measures, particularly the use of lucerne crops.

ACT’s work with vulnerable groups started in 2001 through a partnership with Enfance Espoir (Gabes) and Voix de l’Enfant (Kairouan) in providing training for staff working with babies born to unmarried mothers. This broadened into work with INPE in Tunis, Sidi Thabet (Essanad), CDIS (Gabes), training in breast feeding with UNICEF, and a nappy project in Douz. Following an agreement with the Ministry for women, the family, children and the Elderly (MAFFEPA) work with an old people’s home (Dar Mousenine) and a children’s home in El Kef has been undertaken. Work in this sector has resulted in the publication of a guide on child development (with INPE) and collaboration in the publication of a guide for health auxiliaries with AAGHD.

ACT staff

ACT’s professional staff are all volunteers. Originally emanating mainly from Europe, more recently it has included people from North and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. The work of ACT has shifted over this period from service delivery to capacity building and transformational development, where staff work more as mentors and trainers.