Our History

Beginnings: 1981-1985


Orebro, Sweden: a decision was made to start ACT after a 1981 feasibility study in Tunisia, encouraged by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


First project with the Ministry of Education started, in partnership with the National Union for Tunisia Women (UNFT). Creativity and boldness were needed as the first steps involved the creation of a workshop training girls how to make wooden toys. It worked! It became a reference point for carpentry training throughout the country.

Consolidation: 1986-1990


The start of health work in Sidi Bouzid in agreement with the Ministry of Health; a training programme for Community Health Workers, and further work in primary health care are launched in Kasserine and Gabès.


ACT is registered with the Ministry of Interior in Tunisia.

Growth: 1991-1996


In Sidi Bouzid, a Community Health Workers (CHW) project began in 14 of the poorest villages. The following year, again in Sidi Bouzid, an integrated preschool was begun for children with special needs in collaboration with APAHT.


Collaboration of work with UTAIM in Sfax extends to the South and North West; this extends to a review of National Policy for training special educators, the production of a training manual, and regular training programme in Tunis for special educators.

A new project started in Sfax with UTAIM, creating sheltered workshops for severely disabled young people. Beginning with a carpentry workshop and one ACT family in Sfax, ACT worked with UTAIM to establish the first sheltered carpentry workshop for adults with intellectual difficulties

Greater Effectiveness: 1997-2001


Rural development work starts in the Sidi Bouzid region; a new team was established in the southern region of Gabès in the autumn of 1998 with both disability and health projects launched.

Silver Jubilee: 2007-2011


ACT marks the celebration of its 25th anniversary.

2002 – 2010

Projects started integrating special needs adults into the workplace in Sidi Bouzid and Gabès.

2004 – 2010

Promotion of a school integration programme in Gabès.


Yasmine Revolution in Tunisia; ACT involved in refugee work at Libyan border.

Testing: 2002-2006

1998 – 2008

Partnership work with local groups supporting small development initiatives.


End of training programme for Community Health Work in Kasserine and Gabès.


ACT partnered with Enfance Espoir (Gabès) and Voix de l’Enfant (Kairouan), working with vulnerable groups by providing training to staff working with babies born to unmarried mothers. ACT created an ‘At Risk’ sector to support work with some of the most vulnerable groups in Tunisia.


Focus on improving small water sources in the Ain Jaffel area, tree planting, and reinforcing soil erosion measures.


El Kef team is established.

Widening Horizons 2012 – 2017


ACT expanded the training of trainers that had begun in the disability sector in 2009


A pilot scheme for vocational training or income generating projects for single mothers in the South expanded to a nationwide project. The ‘livelihood project’ approach is also being used with families, women leaving prison and young people with disability.

In March 2015 the ACT Member Bodies decided to dissolve ownership and release ACT to become an International NGO. The former Member Bodies became International Partners; ACT revived its registration in Sweden and opened the office of ACT International; ACT Tunisia became a country office.

With the new structure came a new name and logo, as well as the possibility to have support offices outside of North Africa and country offices across North Africa.


The Association for Cooperation and Transformation gathered together all the former General Directors, many former staff, Board Members, International Partners, current staff and local partners to celebrate its transition from JMO to INGO and 35 years of God’s faithfulness and blessing while operating in Tunisia.

Transition & envision: 2017 - 2020


The shift to INGO brought opportunities for growth and development as ACT prioritised building professional, intentional and transformational approaches to its presence in Tunisia. A new strategic plan – our 2020 vision – brought three areas of focus for ACT. Helpfully, their initials were easy enough to remember!

Activities: how are we bringing the principles of transformational development into our project work, our partnerships and our future planning?
Central: how are we building and strengthening the capacities of ACT as an organisation?
Teams: what is it to be members of one body in each of our contexts?

This period saw a number of Tunisian staff join in with project work, including our first Tunisian Project Manager.


The serving Country and International Director announced his plans to step down from ACT. There was now an opportunity to split out the roles and seek to explore more intentionally working in other contexts across North Africa.

The Covid-19 Pandemic: 2020 - 2022


An interim leadership team was formed while the search for ACT’s next Country Director for Tunisia continued. By March, the Covid-19 virus outbreak had been labelled a pandemic, reminding us that no man-made plans can be guaranteed.

With global travel all but halted, national and international restrictions shifting with highs and lows of infection peaks, and a stark reminder of the economic divides found at all levels of global societies, ACT had no choice but to respond to the immediate need faced by so many. A three-month relief effort was launched, bringing food and hygiene parcels to those most impacted by lockdowns and the sudden loss of income.


An International Director was appointed and tasked with discerning opportunities in other parts of the region where there could be openings for transformational development.

The Interim Leadership came to the end of its mandate in April. The search for ACT’s next Country Director remained ongoing, and the Board approached former GD Dr. Steve Green to cover a year.

A number of ACT’s projects came to an end during this year.


A full Director’s Team is in place and new projects and partners are researched and implemented. ACT explores the new area of counter-trafficking in its project work.