Despite gains in building its democracy, Tunisia still struggles with poor economic conditions and high rates of unemployment and inequality (Diwan, 2019). The country, especially in the interior region, is also plagued by unreliable public services such as medical care and water supply – particular problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tunisia’s public health facilities face severe challenges, including substantial debt, too few beds to meet demand, inadequate equipment, and a shortfall of 14,000 qualified medical staff (News24, 2017).
In addition, water shortages have sparked warnings of a “thirst uprising” as residents in the interior suffer long water-supply cuts, reservoirs run dry, and farmers experience drastic losses (National, 2016). These challenges add to social tensions in a country still struggling with instability since its 2011 revolution.
Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that inadequate access to health care and water is an issue for many Tunisians, and the government is rated poorly for its performance in providing these two essential services. The survey also shows significant rural-urban gaps in access to water and medical care.