Gafsa is one of the 24 provinces of Tunisia. It is located in central Tunisia, bordering Algeria. It covers an area of 7807 km² (including the 9th largest Tunisian city) and has a population of 337,331 (2014 census). In fact, Gafsa has always been known for its rich mining basin which was controlled by the CPG (Company of Phosphate of Gafsa) with revenue estimated to surpass millions of dinars. Unemployment rates in Gafsa were and still are very high and have recently passed 50%.
The government took over this company and thus deprived the people of Gafsa of their right to regional development, they are now at a point where they have two options: work in the mining industry or stay jobless. The mining field supports around 400,000 families and there is no other infrastructure that can provide jobs.
The company focused on the export sector and neglected regional development. . In 2008, a riot erupted expressing people’s frustration with the empty promises given by the government.
However, it was sadly forcefully shut down by the police. As a matter of fact, it was due to the deeply-rooted grievance with how resources were managed. When you read the new constitution, it looks promising and it seems that all will work out for the best . However, nothing has come to life yet. None of these chapters are being implemented, especially in Gafsa and the other southern provinces.
There is another constitutional article that mentions the integration of youth in both local communities and local authorities, but the truth is that young people are not only being left out from authority, they are also being marginalized both in social and economic life.
It is sad to see youth not being active, even when the revolution they led in 2011 was for the same basic social aspirations. It’s hard to see that, in 2015, we are still suffering from segregation between regions by the government.
CPG works for the benefit of Northern areas and the Southern provinces are still ignored and treated unfairly. You see many young people putting in a lot time and effort trying to create opportunities and make a change, but the government is blocking the way.
I believe that media plays a part in that too, as it is not showing us what we need to know. However we still continue to hear about young Tunisians that are continuing to break these barriers and bringing hope for the rest of the Tunisian people. The Nobel Prize was a start but definitely not the last achievement for us. Tunisian youth has a lot of potential and they will make the change we all need, it’s just going to take time and patience.