AfDB and UK delegations visit Souk At-tanmia, a social inclusion project

14/10/2013
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As part of Souk At-tanmia Partnership, a pilot program initiated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in support of entrepreneurship, the British Ambassador to Tunisia, Hamish Cowell, paid a visit on Friday, October 11 to one of the project beneficiaries – the Therapeutic Farm for the Disabled (FTH) in Sidi Thabet, a rural zone outside the Tunisian capital.

The goal of the visit was to assess the Souk At-tanmia initiative and better understand the importance of one organic poultry farm in offering an inclusive employment setting to disabled people while stressing the importance of sustainability.

Located in the agricultural area of Sidi Thabet, and covering 7 hectares, FTH is a Tunisian NGO that supports 90 people with disabilities, including children, youth and adult with mental or physical disability. The purpose of the farm is to supervise and train its students by a teaching team of educators, trainers, zoo therapists, and psychologists in order to enable their empowerment, their social and professional integration.

“Thanks to the combination of financial and mentoring support provided by Souk At-tanmia, the farm was able to develop its activities and build a new organic poultry farm, explained Florian Theus, coordinator of the Souk At-tanmia initiative and socio-economist at the African Development Bank. “The project will support the program of vocational training in agricultural techniques for disabled people. In doing so, it will promote their integration while sustaining the project through the sale of the farm products.”

Reducing social inequalities

As part of the evaluation of the Souk At-tanmia pilot phase whose objective is to promote employment and reduce social and regional inequalities in Tunisia, Ambassador Cowell met with the teams in charge of the organic poultry farm to assess the progress of the project.

“Following the project feasibility study and the finalization of the business plan, and thanks to the disbursement of around US $18,000 in two installments, we were able to fund the building of the poutry farm, the organic certification with the Mediterranean Institute of Certification and the purchasing of about 200 chicks and laying hens, to start our business,” said Moufida Houimli, a young agricultural engineer and project manager. “We have developed a training program for 12 students per year in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Professional Training Agency by creating four permanent positions for young trainers in agriculture and agricultural engineering.”

Promoting inclusive employment

This field visit gave a boost to students, trainers and the FTH team. “We are honoured to welcome [the British Ambassador] Hamish Cowell and the entire delegation, who have motivated us to carry on with our work,” said Leyla Guesmi, president of the FTH. “My only ambition is to provide our students with social and professional integration and a chance for a decent life.”

At the end of his visit, Ambassador Cowell congratulated and praised the efforts of FTH’s team and the philanthropic approach they have adopted in the management of their activities. “The UK government is proud to participate in the AfDB’s project “Souk At-tanmia”. With this field visit, and thanks to the flexible and integrated approach of Souk At-tanmia, we are confident that the initiative will continue to promote an inclusive employment and strengthen social integration and empowerment of the most disadvantaged groups in Tunisia and, thus, contribute to the development of the rural areas,” he said.

The Ambassador was accompanied by Martin Leach, Deputy Head, North Africa and Middle East for the UK Department of International Development (DFID).