INDEX – System of geo-referenced socio-economic Information

Mediterranean Development Initiative (MDI) Tunis, Tunisia

Job insecurity and a lack of local economic opportunities continue to be primary concerns among Tunisia’s population in recent years. New ways to provide these are urgently needed; particularly geographically differentiated approaches that take into account the root causes and full complexity of the spatial inequalities in the country. Fiscal and social transfers are important tools but can work only within a broader facilitative framework. Achieving real, endogenous, and locally sustainable economic development requires the creation of a system of modernized data collection, compilation and transmission from the local level upwards (on the village, district, governorate and national levels).

The creation of a system of geo-referenced information for socio-economic development (INDEX) for Tunisia aims to bring together all stakeholders involved in sustainable development around a single system, with the goal of ensuring the efficient organization, storage, compilation and dissemination of national, regional and local data. Although there has been significant progress in data collection provided by the National Institute for Statistics (INS) in Tunisia, this establishment has limited capacity. There is an immense gap between the supply and demand for statistical information needed for regional and local development and for the decentralization process. For the moment, quality statistical data produced by the national statistical system is virtually inexistent due to local capacities and means.

The INDEX system would represent a common development tool, essential to ensure a better development strategy and boost local private sector dynamics, localized investment planning and a realistic and long-term approach to counter the marginalization of interior areas. The objective is (i) that the regional and local economy should be merit-based, focused on technological innovation and “e-governance,”,and (ii) to prepare the conditions for successful decentralization in Tunisia.

Tunisia’s new constitution aims for a more equitable distribution of prosperity and opportunities across regions and ascribes decentralization as one of its general principles, while also underlining the importance of strengthening local authorities. In the long run, this will necessitate the empowerment of regions, private firms, but also of citizens and local authorities. Sustainable community development based on good local governance can only be effective with a well-designed system for collecting and sharing of national, regional and local knowledge.

The INDEX system is a set of procedures, actions and means that captures local and regional data, converts it into usable information, and provides this information to users through a platform that is tailored to their needs. However, the INDEX system is not only a complex computer program, it is an efficient means of communication and the circulation of information.

The INDEX system is an indispensable tool in the implementation of sustainable development and decentralization in Tunisia. Improved cooperation and coordination in regional development is a necessary condition for tailored regional recovery, also taking into account their mutual complementarity.

INDEX statistics shall provide – based on scientific methods – representative data on the current status and changes in the population, the economy, society, spatial development and the environment in Tunisia. This information must be collected as competently as possible in order to, on one hand, make economical use of the resources and, on the other, minimize time and labour that individuals and enterprises spend on responding to surveys. A detailed business model is currently being developed.

The twofold goal of obtaining quality and efficiency can only be reached if complex statistical methods and procedures are developed and implemented. These ensure, first, that statistical results are based on scientific methods and represent reality as accurately and free of distortion as possible and, second, that in producing them, economic use is made of our resources and the respondents. Once fully deployed, the INDEX project will rely on income from subscriptions, contracts, externally funded projects and commercial activities.

During my phone conversation with Mr Hosni Mouelhi, he asked me to send him a contact person in CTR. He would like to call you to assess our eligibility as well as the grant they can provide us. Their internal rule is that we cannot be granted more than one third of our expenses in 2015. It means that we (Mdi and CTR) would need to at least have 200.000 USD in expenses in 2015.

Thank you
Ghazi