Tunisia: Mainstreaming adaptation into local development planning

Drafting participatory development plans at community level while considering climate change


In Tunisia an approach that integrates adaptation to Climate Change (CC) in local participatory planning was implemented, while considering the relevant aspects in terms of CC at various stages of the process. The initiative started in 2010 in Tunisia with all the stakeholders working on participatory planning at the community level (PDPC) in 13 governorates.

Scope and entry points

Since many years, Tunisia has adopted a participatory and integrated approach that involves concerned communities when implementing natural resource management programmes. The majority of development projects carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture or by organisations under its administration use local participatory planning methods, which do not explicitly address CC aspects. Adapting planning methods by introducing appropriate tools to analyse the vulnerability of local communities to the impacts of CC, within the context of drafting the future PDPC, will allow the identification of activities oriented to increase the resilience of natural resources and to improve the adaptation capacities of these populations.

How it works

The planning method was adapted through a consultation process with the actors who work in local planning.

Development stages of the PDPC

The adjustments do not change the sequence of the stages but represent an increase in information and a diversification of perspectives for the analysis. They contribute to assessing the vulnerability and adaptation capacity of the local population. They also help identify mitigation and adaptation measures and activities aimed at preserving the ecosystem’s production capacities, as well as the population’s livelihoods.


Type of adjustment

Modified/added tools

Identification and prioritisation of planning units (PU) (stage 1) 

Integrating the following into the priority criteria: the choice of the intervention zone (PU), the importance of impacts and the risks of CC to the means of existence of populations

Updating the criteria grid and the regional planning dashboard

Data collection and technical pre-diagnosis (stage 4)

Additional data collection about the local/regional climate context and its impacts on natural and socio-cultural systems;

Preliminary analysis of the degradation status of resources (soil, water, vegetation) from the CC impact point of view

Data sheet on CC impacts for the multidisciplinary team and climate data collection sheet;

Elaboration of a CC matrix indicating: the events that have impacted the region in general and the zone (PU) as well as foreseeable CC risks and their observed/expected impacts on the populations livelihoods, on infrastructures, on ecosystems and on various resources

Additional data collection and community pre-diagnosis (stage 5)

Analysis of  socio-economic and environmental impacts with the population committee;

Discussing actions/measures to be taken respectively by the community and the technical departments to mitigate these impacts and about future changes in the practices considered by the population

Historical profile of the main climate events that have marked the collective memory by their impact, and of their recurrence periods.


Complement to the CC matrix

Participative diagnostic and identification of actions (stage 6)

The action identification approach takes into account the response to CC (adaptation/mitigation measures);

Inclusion in the examination of the pre-feasibility of the proposed actions to the  CC-linked risk criterion with regards to their impact environment and sustainability

Inclusion in the calendar composed of activities (farm and non-farm) of constraints, linked to the climate context and to the degradation of natural resources and of production ecosystems (limiting production and profitability of activities that threaten the population’s means of existence);

Inclusion of the criteria in the matrix by component providing data and information about the various aspects of the pre-feasibility examination

Examination of the feasibility of actions and prioritisation of actions (stage 7) Introduction of the relevance criterion for the preservation of the population’s means of existence and the protection of infrastructure and of ecosystems

Introduction of the criterion in the prioritisation matrix

Documentation of the PDPC (stage 10)

Documenting of adaptation / mitigation measures

Introduction into the presentation standard canvas of a local development plan

Table: Adjustments to the elaboration stages of PDPC

Specifics of application

  • Stakeholders and institutional set-up

The adaptation of the local participatory planning method has mobilised the involved officers on the ground and in the central structures of the Office de Développement Sylvo-Pastoral du Nord-Ouest, under the natural resources management project (in three governorates, piloted by the regional commission for agricultural development), of the ‘Frame Financing for the Management of Catchment Basins’ project (in ten governorates, piloted by the regional commissions for agricultural development) and the integrated management of forests II project .

This approach is maintained throughout the process. The CC/GIZ project plays a facilitating role. During the test phase on the ground, the population representatives (local development committees, agricultural development interest groups, representatives of different interest groups) are also involved in finalising the method adjustment, just like other stakeholders (mainly at the level of local and regional authorities).

  • Input

The most important input consists in obtaining current ground data. Data on climate are often non-existent or not easily accessible. The time for applying the method (elaboration of a PDPC) depends on the complexity of the PU. On average the process requires 2 to 3 months. Introducing modifications which take account of CC significantly increase this duration. The organisations involved have the required internal expertise (planning, multidisciplinary technical team); however a rapid skills upgrading is required (brief additional training).

  • Output

The adapted method is described in a manual. The ground tests should lead to PDPC ‘templates’, integrating CCA, which illustrate the application.

  • Capacities required and ease of use

Capacities are inherent to the practice of local participatory planning. They mainly concern:

    • Setting up a multidisciplinary participatory planning team with experience in drafting PDPC. Adaptation to CC requires a rapid skills upgrade for these planning teams.
    • Ensure the involvement of stakeholders (within the various involved parties) with willingness and capacity to cooperate.
    • Set up a database at the level of the PU which is reliable and covers a sufficient period.

Furthermore, in order to ensure the implementation of the PDPC, links should be made between regional planning (decentralisation) and the sectoral planning of the various stakeholders.

Conclusions for future applications

  • Outcome and added value

The application of the method enables the production of PDPCs that are more resilient to CC. They also allow for better opportunities to attract available financing, at international level, within the context of the framework convention on CC and designed to help developing countries adapt better to CC impacts (bankable projects that could be financed mainly through the funds earmarked for adaptation).

  • Cost-benefit ratio

This ratio can be considered positive. The benefits generated in considering CC and improving development actions are highly significant given the few additional costs incurred by the acquisition of new data and the skills upgrade of the planning teams.

  • Potential for replication

The limiting factors in adopting the method are as follows:

    • The fact that applying these planning methods very often stops at the end of a project. The participatory and integrated approach is being institutionalised (mainly through the PGRNII project). However, the process is slow and is handicapped by the country’s politically unstable context.
    • The absence of a capitalisation system and information and data dissemination pertaining to various environmental aspects at local/regional level.
    • The current need to sensitise and inform decision-makers about CC in order to motivate them to factor this risk into planning at various levels.

Another condition is the confirmation of a move towards the decentralised planning of national development (see the strategy for improving governance and local development in Tunisia (MDRP – November 2012). Indeed, the PDPC financing largely depends on their integration in regional planning.

In Tunisia, there are approximately 20 projects directly involved in local development and/or natural resource management. This presents opportunities for the application/ replication of the method.

Local technicians have significant expertise (particularly in fighting desertification) and research outcomes have been applied within the context of certain development projects. They have demonstrated their potential for adaptation to CC. This represents an asset for identifying adaptation measures to CC (the case of direct sowing, conservation agriculture).

Reference persons and further information


– Report of the brainstorming workshop organised in Béja for the elaboration of a methodology considering climate change in local participatory planning at community level – June 2010 (CCC/GIZ project, ODESYPANO)

– Taking stock of local participatory planning experiences: elaboration of community participatory development plans – Abderrahmane Ben Boubaker – August 2011 (CCC/GIZ project – Ministry of Environment)

– Report on the summary workshop for considering climate change in the local participatory planning process at the community level – Abderrahmane Ben Boubaker – December 2011 (CCC/GIZ project – Ministry of Environment)

– Elaboration manual on participatory development plans at the community level, while considering climate change – Abderrahmane Ben Boubaker – December 2011 (CCC/GIZ project – Ministry of Environment)

Reference persons