Ladies that learn

Down in the south of Tunisia, the community of Ouled Souissi have been busy bees. ACT is excited to see strides being made, as the local community continues to take ownership and participate in our Community Development Project.

Launched in early 2018, the three-year Community Development Project (CDP) is well underway. Following the success of the CDP Open Day, project manager Philippe has been focused on getting the next phases of the project up and running.

And the women are leading the way.

Many Tunisians are struggling with the country’s current economic and social situation, particularly in the more rural, agricultural regions of the country. Recently there have been several strikes protesting the ever-increasing costs of living. Rainfall – or lack of it – is an important topic for rural communities.

Fortunately, long-awaited rain finally fell earlier this month. Menzel Habib was drenched with two-thirds of the average yearly rainfall in just two weeks! This redemption has helped the situation massively.

“The overall goal of the project is to improve the wellbeing [of the people] of Ouled Souissi,” says Philippe, “in a way that is sustainable, through increased income, improved women’s self-image through self-employment, and improved social cohesion through social organisation.”

Perhaps one of the most promising developments for this community has been the start of a local development association for – and by – the women in the community. For some, this is their first opportunity to be a part of something like it.

The groups’ elected board now look after the administrative and financial management. They have received training in entrepreneurship, as well as practical training in poultry production.

Equipment sourcing is a very practical means in which ACT is helping support sustainable development. An incubator, capable of holding up to 300 eggs, has been provided to the women’s association.

Through two exchange visits with similar local associations, the women were able to network with others for their own learning and for future mutual help.

Eleven women attending a training dedicated to teaching olive tree pruning, a tree of great importance both culturally and historically, as well as a primary source of income for many Tunisian farmers.

There are still many things we hope to achieve with this project: there are plans to hold more events like the Open Day. The poultry training and production – while encouraging in what is has so far achieved – needs to strengthen and develop to be self-sustaining and benefit many more.

Once the poultry training has been completed, the next step is further training in sheep and goat production.

The women and community of Ouled Souissi are coming together and seeing their hard work pay off. The first few months of 2019 have seen “a good network of people willing to be involved,” says Philippe.

Thanks to project activities, families will now have an increased capacity for gaining income through development, new equipment, trainings and subsidies ACT has helped provide.