The North Africa region includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Since 2011 the area has witnessed turbulent socio-political events, often accompanied by violence and armed struggle. The wider social discontent mounting over the years stemmed from deteriorating life conditions and the ever harsher state of local economy (high youth unemployment rate, heavily inflated food prices), together with common corruption practices and nepotism among undemocratic regimes. This laid foundation for an outbreak of social upheaval and changes which came to be collectively known as “The Arab Spring”.
In reaction to the subsequent government transformation process in certain countries of the region (Tunisia, Egypt and Libya), Poland acknowledged the democratic aspirations of local societies and decided to support the process through development cooperation, as well as sharing its own transformation experience. As a result Tunisia and Libya were included as North Africa region priority countries into the Multiannual development cooperation program 2012-2015. As part of the detailed priorities of democracy and human rights and government transformation conducted for those countries, Poland endeavors to: support professionalization and development of public administration, promote environmental protection and finally support the socially excluded groups.
After the undemocratic regimes had been toppled, the countries of the region faced the necessity of establishing the basics of democracy and functioning state structures, without having previous experience or adequate knowledge of their own. Thus the passing on of the Polish systemic transformation experience will serve the creation of a modern administration capable of providing effective state governance, as well as sound public relations.
At a time of turbulent and rapid socio-political changes those who pay the highest price of the transformation process are usually the weakest and the poorest people. That is why there is a need for measures aiming at integrating the socially excluded, such as prepping their education system and conducting professional motivation. Raising the effectiveness of civil society’s support actions towards those people is equally important.
The Polish development cooperation with North Africa is delivered mainly through the operations of Polish NGOs (projects financed by the International Solidarity Foundation), initiatives undertaken by the Polish diplomatic facilities abroad (small grants scheme) and also initiatives of government administration organs.
Actions in 2013
As of 2013 our development cooperation is still concentrated on Tunisia and Libya – the priority countries in North Africa – with whom Poland shares her own experience from the transformation period in order to support the ongoing democratization and transformation processes (see the full list of projects).
As part of the “Supporting Democracy 2013” grants competition financed by the polish development cooperation program and organized by the Solidarity Fund PL, the Polish NGOs implemented 4 projects in Tunisia, with a total subsidy of 759 430 PLN. A further 326 780 PLN provided by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was used by the Fund to launch a project in Tunisia, which included Polish experts-ran workshops for Tunisian civil servants, media and NGOs, as well as internships in Poland for Tunisians.
192 381 PLN was attributed by the Polish MFA to the project entitled Enhancing the migration management system of Tunisia in the field of border protection. The project was administered by the Polish Ministry of the Interior under the professionalization and development of public administration priority. It included border protection management workshops between the Tunisian side and representatives of the Polish administration and NGOs, together with internships for Tunisian civil servants at the border guard training center in Kętrzyn.
2 projects for Tunisia and Egypt were conducted under the small grants scheme and they accounted for 129 061 PLN.
September 2013 saw SENSE (Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise) training held in Poland. It was organized by the Department of Development Cooperation of the Polish MFA and State School of Public Administration. 50 Libyan civil servants from institutions such as General National Congress, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Finance took part. Apart from computer simulations of managing a state in transition, the program of the visit included meetings with Bogdan Borusewicz, Marshall of Senate, the representatives of the Sejm’s Foreign Affairs Commission and the Polish-Libyan Parliamentary Group.
The total sum devoted to Polish development cooperation projects in countries of the North Africa region amounted to 1 867 652 PLN.