Local democracy and local citizen participation

Manual on concepts, general conditions and tools for local citizen participation

Definition, objective and added value

The manual is a support tool for local participatory democracy. It aims to implement participatory mechanisms at local level and to generate the interest of local authorities and the civil society.

Working methods

The manual proposes a variety of tools for citizen participation, which are organized according to three levels of action: information, consultation/collaboration and co-decision. The different levels are illustrated by numerous Tunisian, regional and international examples and best practices.


In cooperation with the GIZ program Strengthening local democracy in Tunisia (CoMun), the Tunisian Center for Decentralization Training and Support (CFAD) has organized awareness raising workshops for Tunisian municipalities on the topic of citizen participation. They were held from June 2013 to October 2014 in small, medium and large sized cities, within the entire country, in the North, Center and South of Tunisia. The meetings provided a platform for exchanges on the participatory approach, regarding the constraints of municipalities and discussions on the establishment of participatory mechanisms despite their difficulties.

Until today, this circle of exchange on local democracy and citizen participation has mobilized a total number of 230 municipalities. In 2015, the circle attempts to reach the remaining 34 of all 264 Tunisian communes. The awareness raising workshops have demonstrated the need to train new local experts in this field, in order to provide mediators for every region. In order to achieve this objective, the CFAD has launched a cycle of “train the trainers” for a total number of 30 people. The candidates have been selected according to strict criteria; have extensive onsite experience and considerable knowledge of local particularities. These trainers were already been involved in the awareness raising workshops of autumn 2014, and until today, some of them have already facilitated two seminars on the topic. Their presence and experience enriched the debates.

Practical examples

Participatory budgeting, as well as public roundtables and meetings all point out the will of municipalities to follow a participatory approach. The “citizens’ office” in Siliana is only one of the practical examples of citizen participation in Tunisia. It aims at strengthening democratic structures of Tunisian cities in the current process of decentralization. The “citizens’ office” of Siliana is the second one of its type in Tunisia, after the one of Menzel Bourguiba which opened its doors on December 13, 2013. Through the creation of local, short-distance structures, the project aims at improving the reactivity of the municipality vis-à-vis its citizens and providing services in a timely and simple manner, and in the best conditions possible.

Read more about the handbook

Article: A Participatory Approach: Citizens as Key Players in Urban Development from 11.12.2014 (EN)

Documents de référence en français

Documents de référence en arabe, anglais et allemand