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Outcome Story: New jobs, diversified livelihoods and improved biodiversity through inclusive oases management in Tunisia


Overview of policy or practice situation project sought to influence

This project is influencing the sustainable management of oases ecosystems in Tunisia, through the elaboration of a National Strategy. It has demonstrated the feasibility of implementing the Strategy by collaboratively developing Oasis Participatory Development Plans for 6 pilot oases. It has opened the door and provided key evidence and strategies that are informing a new $100 million project in Tunisia, on Natural Resource Conservation and Development.

Nature of the policy or practice influence observed

  • This activity informed the Tunisia Systematic Country Diagnostic and the Country Program Framework by highlighting the importance of lagging regions in Tunisia and the necessity for Bank operations to improve the equality of opportunities and to support those who might be left behind, in particular, the youth.
  • The National Oasis Strategy has informed several other key government strategies: (i) the National Strategy for a Green Economy‚ÄĚ; (ii) the Regional Development Vision for southern governorates; (iii) the Bank and the Government Strategy for Tunisia lagging regions; and (iv) the Government new Five-year Development Plan (2016-2020).
  • A common framework was developed during the process, aimed at elaborating a participatory action plan. This framework has been adopted by key stakeholders and development partners and is now considered as a national tool for the development of local development plans.
  • In terms of implementation of the 6 OPDPs, around 60 community-driven micro-projects have been completed or are being implemented, involving improved practices for sustainable management of land and water and biodiversity, and pursuing local livelihood diversification opportunities and investments.

Potential significance of influence

The national development strategy reflects key constraints and bottlenecks in about 130 traditional oases in southern Tunisia and the priority needs of their communities, and identifies a sustainable approach aimed at diversifying local livelihoods, protecting local productive assets, reducing unemployment of the youth, bringing women back into the labor force, and conserving biodiversity, water and soils, while improving governance through participatory and inclusive processes. The project has promoted more dynamic relationships within and among communities while strengthening local social capital and re-establishing trust between the local population and the administration. On the technical side, it has promoted new sustainable technologies, by introducing more resilient cultivars, as well as cleaning oasis for preventive control against diseases and parasites and rejuvenating palm trees by planting local species.

The preparation of OPDPs in six particularly fragile oases, representing the variety of Tunisian oasis ecosystems, has identified pathways to sustainable development, and pinpointed a number of key investment in local natural, human, physical and social capital.


Research design features that enhanced policy/practice relevance

A multidisciplinary approach was taken to preparing in-depth analytical studies that included historical, socio-economic and environmental and ecological assessments. A national workshop was held in Sept 2015 and an action plan was developed.  Multiple stakeholders at different levels (producers, civil society representatives, entrepreneurs and administrative authorities at the local level; and key ministerial departments at the national level) were involved in the preparation and review of the new national strategy and development plans of selected oases.

Key inputs, knowledge products, events or interactions that led to policy/practice influence

Historical, socio-economic and environmental and ecological assessments informed the OPDP design process. Based on this knowledge, comprehensive discussions were held at the local level (with producers, civil society, and entrepreneurs, as well as administrative authorities and representatives of line departments), and at the national level (with key ministerial departments). In addition, the activities developed a better understanding and identification of current priority needs and constraints such as the overexploitation of groundwater and the impacts of climate change on oasis ecosystems.

Key policy or practice influence strategies

A communication strategy and an action plan were developed to ensure widespread dissemination of the results of this project. Several national workshops and regional consultations were organized to disseminate, present, and validate the strategy and the OPDPs with national and local stakeholders.


Political context:

While many factors contributed to enabling this project, the decentralization that supported the empowerment of local municipalities - through the de-concentration and empowerment of technical line departments - was pivotal in promoting local buy-in and stakeholder support for inclusive approaches to managing oases.

Social context:

The activities of the project have been conducted in a social context characterized, on one hand, by social unrest and regional instability, and, on the other hand, by the emergence of a more vibrant and diverse civil society, pushing for greater transparency, participation and accountability. The approach supported by the project has been favored by new commitments to promote social equality, cater to the needs of women and youth (particularly for jobs) and reduce poverty rates in lagging regions. This social context has contributed significantly to achieving the intended outcomes.

Development debate:

The project has contributed to a renewed focus on the fragility of Tunisian oasis ecosystems, threatened by over-exploitation of groundwater, climate change, and urban encroachment.  The project has built consensus for an integrated vision of sustainable development, with oases management as a central element.  


  • The national strategy and the oasis development plans have been posted in the new Web site of the associated World Bank Oases Ecosystems and Livelihoods project (see:

Variables for the cross-case analysis, and type of answer:

  • Score that the project received¬†against¬†the project design rubric -¬†Met expectations
  • Score that the project received against the project level uptake rubric -¬†Met expectations
  • Whether the activity involved translating knowledge¬†for¬†specific priority groups -¬†Yes
  • Whether the activity included engagement/ exchange of ideas,¬†and co-development of knowledge with target audience -¬†Yes
  • Whether the activity included engagement/ exchange of ideas,¬†and co-development of knowledge with target audience -¬†No
  • Whether the activity was modified as a result of learnings from monitoring and reflection -¬†No
  • Whether the activity was modified in the light of learning from other projects/settings -¬†Yes
  • Whether the activity involved collaboration more than one¬†KNOWFOR¬†partner -¬†No
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