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PIARC (World Road Association), founded in 1909 and comprising 125 member governments from all over the world, is the global forum for exchange of knowledge and experience on roads, road transport policies and practices. With consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, the Association is contributing to a stable and sustainable global development of the road and transport sector.

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International Seminar "Resilient, sustainable and safe rural roads & earth structures for a better future"

03-05 May 2023, Tunis (Tunisia)

The international seminar was jointly organized by the Tunisian Road Association (ATR), the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MEH), and PIARC's technical committees 2.2 "Accessibility and Mobility in Rural Areas" and 4.3 "Earthworks". The aim of the seminar was to exchange and share the best methods used across the world to carry out road earthworks while preserving the environment and guaranteeing safety.

Preparatory documents for the Seminar

The objectives of the seminar

"Access to safe transportation infrastructure is a basic human need. Today, millions of people in rural areas lack safe and passable roads to access basic services. It is therefore important to reflect together, exchange, discuss how to improve accessibility and mobility in rural areas" - Imen Makhlouf, TC2.2, responsible for the seminar. 

This international seminar was organized to:

  • Improve understanding of rural roads and earthwork structures,
  • Understand the challenges pertaining to rural roads and earthwork structures,
  • Learn best practices and implementation models that could be used as examples,
  • Exchange ideas among participants and propose solutions,
  • Network and connect with road professionals.

Course of the seminar

The seminar was divided into eight technical plenary sessions and parallel sessions followed by a round table.

Several themes were presented and were the subject of questions and answers with the audience.

The technical sessions were organized along the two days of the seminar and each technical session included several presentations by members of the technical committees TC 2.2 and TC 4.3 but also Tunisian and international experts. The program is marked by the participation of 13 women moderators / speakers on a total of 41 interventions. This corresponds to more than 30% of female participation in the panels.

At the end of each technical session, a discussion was opened to debate the different themes addressed in the presentations.

This seminar was followed by two technical visits.

Technical program and session topics:

This seminar was a unique opportunity to bring together professionals and decision makers from around the world to discuss the future of rural roads and earthworks.

The seminar was opened by Mr. Nazir Alli, President of the World Road Association (PIARC), who participated in the opening session and the closing round table of the seminar with the topic: "The future of rural roads and earthworks".

During this event, participants had the opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge on best practices and innovative low-cost solutions to these challenges.

A total of 30 national and international experts shared their knowledge during these 2 days. The presentations were rich and varied, and the discussions very fruitful.

This seminar was an opportunity to share international best practices for the realization of road earthworks with reference to the environment and safety.

"The fill materials will have to be chosen to meet specific needs, and satisfy a number of requirements. The first of these requirements should be the criterion of safety with respect to their use in the short term, then their durability over time to satisfy all the tasks assigned to it during the service life of the road project"- Kamel Zaghouani, TC4.3, responsible for the seminar.

Resilience, climate commitment, decarbonization, circular economy, sustainable construction are key concepts to cushion the effects of climate change on rural roads.

Advanced technologies and modern techniques were emphasized to improve the quality of the construction materials used and to reduce the total costs of road construction and maintenance.

This seminar was an opportunity to bring together professionals, policy makers and donors to discuss the future of rural roads and earthworks around a round table.

"At the end of this meeting and following the various debates as relevant as each other, we decided to create an earthworks committee. This committee will have the task to revise and update the terms of reference relating to earthworks and this will be done with the support of the Ministry of Equipment and Housing and experts of the technical committee "Earthworks" of PIARC" - Aïda Bergaoui - President of the ATR

Finally, the closing remarks were given by Mrs. Sarra Zaafrani Zenzri, Minister of Equipment and Housing of Tunisia, who pointed out the progress made by her Ministry for decades in the improvement of infrastructure and roads in rural areas.

The adoption of quality standards for construction materials, the establishment of effective mechanisms for the management and maintenance of roads, as well as the promotion of the use of innovative technologies to build more sustainable and safer roads, have enabled Tunisia to be ranked among the best in the Middle East and North Africa region in terms of quality and density of the road network.

"I would like to value the important role of PIARC and ATR which constitute a platform of exchange for the professionals of the road industry, which allows for the identification and sharing of best practices, knowledge and the innovations in the road field, and invites us to work all together in order to implement a better road policy"- Mrs Sarra Zaafrani Zenzri, Minister of Equipment and Housing in Tunisia.

International Seminar Proceedings - 03-05 May 2023
Resilient, sustainable and safe rural roads & earth structures for a better future
(mostly in french)

Day 1 - 03 May

08:00 - 09:00


09:00 - 10:30

Opening session 

  • Welcome and moderation  - Imen Makhlouf Technical committee 2.2 et Kamel Zaghouani Technical committee 4.3, Seminar leaders, 
  • Presentation of the Tunisian Roads Association - Aida Bergaoui, President of the ATR  
  • Presentation of the PIARC - Nazir Alli, PIARC President 
  • Technical Committee 2.2 "Accessibility and mobility in rural areas" - Souleman Oussiman, Technical Committee 2.2 President
  • Technical Committee 4.3 "Earthworks" - Patrick Boisson, Technical Committee 4.3 President

10:00 - 10:30

Opening speech 

  • The need for more resilient roads in the face of climate change  - Slah Zouari, first delegate of Tunisia to PIARC and Director General of Bridges and Roads 

10:30 - 11:00

Coffee break

11:00 - 13:00

Session 1: Current challenges for rural roads and earthworks 

13:00 - 14:00


14:00 - 15:30

Session 2: Good practices for rural roads and earthworks: Current practices in low- to middle-income countries 

15:30 - 16:00

Coffee brak

16:00 - 18:00

Session 3: Low-cost maintenance and innovative solutions for sustainable rural roads and earthworks 

Day 2 - 04 May

08:30 - 09:00


09:00 - 10:30

Session 4: Sustainable Earthworks, Platform Design and CO2 - Comparisons of Different Approaches: European, American and British Standards - Part 1 

  • Introduction - Kamel Zaghouani, moderator, technical committee 4.3 (Tunisia)
  • The challenges of carrying out earthworks - Anis Mbazaia, Director of the Tunis-Jelma Highway Implementation Unit (Tunisia)
  • Dimensioning rules for platforms (PST, Arase according to GTR92)  - Yasmina Boussafir, technical committee 4.3 (France)
  • Debate and Q&A
  • Conclusion of the session

10:30 - 11:00

Coffee break


Room 1 : Technical Committee 2.2 - Accessibility and mobility in rural areas

Room 2 : Technical Committee 4.3 - Sustainable Earthworks and CO2 Reduction

11:00 - 13:00

Session 5-1: Improve accessibility and mobility in rural areas (rural transportation, rural road safety, social impacts of rural roads, etc.)

Session 5-2: Terrassements durables, conception de plates-formes et réduction du CO2 - Comparaisons de différentes approches: Normes européennes, américaines et britanniques – Partie 2

13:00 - 14:00


14:00 - 15:30

Session 6: Technical solutions for paved and unpaved roads 

15:30 - 16:00

Coffee break

16:00 - 17:30

Session 7: Climate change and resilience of rural roads and earthworks 

17:30 - 1815

Roundtable: The Future of Rural Roads and Earthworks 

  • Moderator: François Chaignon, technical committe 2.2 (France)
  • Panelists: Nazir Ali, PIARC President - Slah Zouari, Ministry of Equipment and Housing (Tunisia) - Andre Broto, Strategic Theme 2 (France) - Souleman Oussman, technical committee 2.2 (Burkina-Faso) - Patrick Boisson, technical committee 4.3 (France) - Marc Navelet, World Bank

18:15 - 18:30


  • Imen Makhlouf, technical committee 2.2, seminar leader
  • Closing words of the seminar - Mme Sarra Zenzri Zaafrani, Minister of Equipment and Housing

Day 3 - 05 May

Technical visits

08:00 - 14:00

Site visit - Earthworks

  • Transport from Tunis -Korbous
  • Project presentation
  • Technical visit: Project of Re-establishment of the Road Link RR128 Connecting Ain Actor to Korbous - Nabeul
  • Lunch
  • Return to Tunis

Site visit - Rural roads

  • Transport from Tunis to Jendouba
  • Project presentation
  • Integrated project of opening up the Douars Soualhia, Aïn Safra and Chabnia - Commune Balta Bouaouene (Jendouba)
  • Lunch
  • Return to Tunis

Two technical visits were organized on 5 May 2023 within the framework of the seminar:

  • Technical visit 1: Field visit of the road link RR128 Ain Oktor - Korbous
  • Technical visit 2: Integrated project of opening up the Douars Soualhia, Aïn Safra and Chabnia (1h45 from Tunis) - Commune Balta Bouaouene (Jendouba)

In partnership with the international labour organization (ILO) and as part of the project: "Pilot Initiative for Local Integrated Development" (IPDLI), funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Labour Office (ILO), a field visit was organized in the municipality of Balta Bouaen - Governorate of Jendouba as part of its participation in the seminar.

  • Seminar organizers

  • Tunisian Road Association (ATR) members

  • Aida Bergaoui, ATR President at the tribune

  • Imen Ben Hassine, ATR assistant general secretary at the tribune

  • Audience of the Seminar

  • Nazir Alli, PIARC president at the tribune

  • Audience of the Seminar

  • Seminar participants

  • Technical visit of the seminar

  • Technical visit of the seminar