An online platform allows the Tunisian population to closely follow the work of their national and municipal governments.
The Arab Spring led to dramatic political changes in the Middle East and North Africa. The Tunisian Revolution that started in 2010 was the spark that set off a wave of revolts and demonstrations in the region. President Ali’s regime was overturned in December 2010 and, after a four-year transitional period, Tunisia has a stable government - though the population knows better than to take it for granted. The internet was an important element of the revolution, and it turns out that it could be part of the solution too by helping keep the new government accountable.
At least that is what Al-Bawsala, a Tunisian NGO that works to promote good governance, believes and aims to put into practice. Al-Bawsala partnered with Hamburg-based Parliament Watch to create an online government monitoring platform Marsad.tn. ‘Marsad’ means observatory in Arabic, and that perfectly captures the purpose of the website: to give the population access to parliamentary information. The page is available in Arabic and French.
“We wanted to get inside the Assembly to know what was going on, what were they doing, to create transparency and accountability”
- Ghada Louhichi, project manager
Marsad.tn contains three separate projects: Marsad Baladia, Marsad Budget, and Marsad Majles.
Marsad Baladia: Municipal Matters
Marsad Baladia focuses on local governments. On this page, users can track what is happening in their municipalities. For each city, the website has information on the members of the council, the municipality’s assets, the yearly budget, ongoing projects and a transparency index.
Marsad Budget: Watching the Government’s Spending
On this page, Al-Bawsala tracks the government’s budget. The user can see where public money is being spent, for every single ministry. In addition, some useful infographics provide information on hot topics such as national debt and the budgeting process.
Marsad Majles: Keeping Up with the National Assembly
The focus of this page is Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA). The Al-Bawsala team posts regular updates on the topics being discussed and decision-making processes. Other features include an interactive organigram of the assembly (complete with pictures, biographies and contact information of representants), official documents, daily agendas and government responses to questions from the public.
Marsad.tn is an ambitious and time-consuming project: members of Al-Bawsala have to attend parliamentary meetings to be able to credibly document what happens every single day. Nonetheless, the team is motivated and feels that their work could benefit not only Tunisia, but all the countries in the region that might follow their example and demand similar transparency from their new governments.