Youth on the Margins

Mental health and risk-taking behaviours in El Kabaria, northern Kasserine and northern Tataouine

International Alert has dedicated a great deal of attention to the social and economic rights of young people in marginalised working-class districts and border regions since it first began operating in Tunisia in 2012.

By establishing sub-national offices in border regions, it has benefited from favourable proximity to and engagement with three groups of actors: civil society organisations, local government and young people’s coordination committees. In 2017, these actors identified health services in Tataouine governorate as the priority, after years of protesting the complete absence of gynaecology provision, which had led to frequent deaths among pregnant women in the region. In response, International Alert launched a participative citizen study, the first of its kind in Tunisia, assessing healthcare provision in the governorate and its delegations. This study was based on a belief that including citizens in the assessment of public services was key to strengthening participatory democracy in marginalised regions suffering from inequalities in their access to basic services and to promoting a more just and thoroughgoing public policy. As such, International Alert and its partners developed innovative diagnostic citizen tools intended to help young people access healthcare services, organised a series of online seminars during the coronavirus pandemic, and carried out middle- and short-term health projects in various governorates while the country was in lockdown.