10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Libya
Between Egypt and Algeria in the northeastern corner of Africa lies Libya, a large desert nation consisting of roughly 6.5 million people. Since 2011, a violent and chaotic civil war has plagued this North African nation and many aspects of Libya’s society are in shambles.

A former colony of Italy, Libya gained independence in the years following the Second World War. In 1969, rebel leader Muammar Gaddafi assumed power, using oil exports to fund an extremely repressive and prosperous regime. Decades later, as Arab Spring protests swept through North Africa, Gaddafi’s grip on power fell and the country descended into civil war. Because Libya’s quality of life is often stunted by the rampant chaos within the country, the following 10 facts about life expectancy in Libya unpack the economic, societal and cultural issues brought on by the conflict.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Libya

  1. Libya’s total life expectancy is at 71.9 years, 75 for women and 69 for men. The WHO ranks Libya 104th in overall life expectancy, although the chaos within the country often prevents humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations from collecting accurate data.
  2. Despite decades of human rights violations, Gaddafi’s regime upheld one of the more comprehensive and effective health care systems in the Arab World. Funded by oil exports, the government offered free, quality health care to all citizens. Although the conflict has destroyed much of Libya’s infrastructure, remnants of Gaddafi’s health care system are still present today.
  3. The biggest hindrance to improving Libya’s life expectancy is the civil war. The WHO estimates that 1.2 million people are suffering from food insecurity as a result of the conflict and more than 650,000 have unreliable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Roughly 30,000 people have suffered from conflict-related injuries and a sharp rise in gendered violence has severely affected communities across the country. For the elderly, sick and young people of Libya, the long list of hardships brought on by the conflict has complicated an already difficult life.
  4. The conflict has devastated much of Libya’s once flourishing health care system, most notably in the urban centers of Tripoli, Sirte and the rural south. In one year, the U.N. reported 36 attacks on medical facilities and personnel, though many suspect the actual number is higher. Seventeen hospitals have been closed, while only four of Libya’s 97 health care facilities are functioning above 80 percent of their normal capacity. The remaining hospitals are overcrowded, struggling to perform basic procedures as medicines and supplies are often depleted and many health care providers have fled the country.
  5. With up to nine factions fighting within the country, Libya’s official U.N.-backed government has little control outside of Tripoli and Sirte. Therefore, public health and awareness campaigns have been largely absent as the WHO reports that 75 percent of Libya’s public health facilities have shut down. Prior to the start of the conflict, HIV/AIDS rates in Libya were relatively low. However, the lack of public health efforts, compiled with increases of rape and gendered violence have resulted in a higher prevalence of the virus.
  6. Nearly 64 percent of Libyans are either overweight or obese. The study also found that the diet of most Libyans that was already lacking in fruits and vegetables has been heavily influenced by Western food practices. In the past decade, the burger has become a staple in Benghazi cuisine.
  7. Libya is Africa’s largest importer of rolled tobacco and each year roughly 3,500 Libyans die from tobacco-related causes. Though the war has crippled Libya’s tobacco industry, cigarette consumption rates are expected to rise by 25 percent in the coming decade. This could have a significant impact on Libya’s life expectancy as there is a clear correlation between high smoking rates and decreased national life expectancy.
  8. Because Libya’s state-run health care is largely ineffective, organizations like the WHO provide essential medical services. Partnering with a number of Libyan hospitals, the WHO has provided $1.4 million worth of drugs and medical supplies, reviewed 10 Libyan hospitals and upgraded the country’s disease surveillance system. As recently as January 15th, the WHO offered a workshop on noncommunicable diseases, attended by 30 nurses.
  9. Libya and Egypt recently began a cross border partnership monitoring diseases and issuing vaccinations. Facilitated by the WHO, the partnership has made important treatments, including the poliovirus vaccine, available to Libyans and has helped curb outbreaks in the rural Western regions. Since the initiative, no cases of polio, neonatal tetanus, or yellow fever have been reported.
  10. Despite the long list of issues, Libya’s life expectancy is relatively high considering the violence and chaos within its borders. When compared to Yemen (65.3), Afghanistan (62.7), Iraq (69.8), Syria (63.8) and Somalia (55.4), areas currently experiencing some of the most intense conflicts in the world, Libya’s life expectancy is the highest at 71.9.

Most of these 10 facts about life expectancy in Libya revolve around the current civil war that is the main roadblocks in improving the country’s life expectancy. The current government is unable to provide consistent health care, food, water, electricity and other basic rights to Libyans, threatening the lives of the country’s most vulnerable.

After almost eight years of conflict, tensions may be cooling as rival factions met recently in Benghazi to discuss a possible ceasefire. If these recent peace talks prove to be successful, the resource-rich country could become a fully functioning state once again. Yet, Libya still has a long uphill climb, and nongovernmental organizations and foreign aid will still be an integral part of the country’s development.

– Kyle Dunphey

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Libya
Libya, located on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, has been marked by turmoil since the Arab Spring that occurred in 2011.

Formerly a dictatorship, the country has undergone many changes in recent years.

The top 10 facts about living conditions in Libya presented in the article below highlight what life is like in the country today.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Libya

  1. Libya is in a state of political unrest. Since the fall of former leader Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan government has splintered into multiple factions, including two parliaments, two central banks, three potential prime ministers and multiple armed militia groups.
  2. Recent plans to hold general elections in early December have been canceled. Due to stalled talks between factions, the elections did not take place, but a recent summit in Palermo saw both factions recognized by U.N.- Government of National Accord and General Khalifa Hafter, who holds sway over much of Eastern Libya, open to holding elections in early 2019.
  3. A recent ceasefire in Tripoli is still active. The ceasefire, brokered by the U.N. in September continues to hold, with armed groups within the capital withdrawing from key locations. Libyan officials hope to replicate the success achieved in the capital elsewhere in the country.
  4. Libya relies heavily on its oil reserves. The country has the largest oil reserves in Africa and the ninth largest in the world, estimated at 48,363 billion barrels. Oil and natural gas are out of most importance for the country economically, accounting for about 60 percent of GDP and 82 percent of export earnings. Sadly, due to the current climate in the country’s crude oil production has fallen, from over 1,500 barrels per day before the 2011 war to 1,000 barrels per day in 2018.
  5. The current political situation and a drop in oil production have led to a high unemployment rate, but the situation is improving. In recent years, unemployment has been slowly but steadily decreasing, from 19 percent in 2012 to 17.7 percent in 2017.
  6. One of the biggest challenges facing the Libyan population is access to health care. As a result of the recent conflict, only four of the country’s hospitals are functioning at high capacity, and over 20 percent of the country’s primary health care facilities are closed.
  7. Improvements in health care are underway. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been able to distribute the first batch of essential medicines to multiple primary health care centers. The medicine will benefit an estimated 19,000 people for three months, and a second and third batch of deliveries are in the works.
  8. The life expectancy in the country is high. Since the middle of the 20th century, life expectancy has improved dramatically. In 1950, the average lifespan was just 52.9 years. Since then, the average lifespan has increased to 76.7 years in 2018.
  9. Unrest in the country has led to intermittent access to water. The country’s largest city, Tripoli, saw its supply of water cut off by armed groups twice- at the end of 2017 and in September 2018, with one such cut lasting nearly a week, forcing residents to rely on potentially unsafe water.
  10. Programs are in place to improve living conditions in Libya. The Government of National Accord, with the U.N. support, launched the Stabilization Facility for Libya. Through the program supplies such as ambulances, garbage trucks, solar panels and computers are being provided to schools and government offices. The program is also helping repair damaged infrastructure and provide education to millions across the nation.

Although there is still uncertainty for the country’s future, these top 10 facts about living conditions in Libya show that there is a reason to believe things are getting better.

Projects like the Stabilization Facility for Libya, the decreasing unemployment rate and the potential for new general elections all show that things are getting better for Libyan citizens.

– Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in LibyaWhile Libya may be primarily known for its involvement in the Arab Spring and the subsequent civil war, the country has since undergone a period of drastic socio-economic change. This period has left a large portion of Libya impoverished. These are current facts about poverty in Libya.

Facts About Poverty in Libya

  1. Oil is the primary source of wealth for Libya, accounting for 86 percent of the country’s revenue. This is three times higher than Libya’s 2017 earnings from oil. This increase in revenue has cut the national budget deficit in half, which may be an encouraging sign for poverty rates. 
  2. The rise in oil revenue, however, raises an interesting and unique issue in Libya. The 2018 oil figures are based on statistics from the Central Bank of Libya, which formally controls the country’s oil revenue. However, the Central Bank is based in Tripoli and controlled by the General National Congress (GNC). This government body was the formally-recognized government prior to the Arab Spring uprising, but has not been recognized by any international bodies since. Instead, the rival Council of Deputies is recognized as the established government, though it does not control the Tripoli-based Central Bank.
  3. The assassination of President Muammar Ghaddafi was a formative moment for the outbreak of poverty in Libya. Before his assassination, the poverty rate was so low that fewer people lived in poverty in Libya than in the Netherlands. Today, nearly a third of Libya lives below the poverty line.
  4. According to Global Research, Libya also once had the highest life expectancy rate and GDP-per-capita across Africa. Today, however, the country is what many consider to be a failed state, and GDP per capita is down nearly 10,000 USD.
  5. According to MSNBC, Libya is the largest gatekeeper of migrants attempting to travel to Europe through Africa. Without a functioning government to monitor the country’s Mediterranean coast, smugglers have consistently sent more than 100,000 migrants to Italy alone in the years following the government’s collapse. With even more migrants living in Libya until they can raise the money to travel to Europe, the country’s resources are being drained, further exacerbating poverty in Libya.
  6. Libya is not, however, a completely failed state. The Government of National Accord (GNA), which houses the House of Representatives, has been recognized by many international bodies. The GNA has even gone to great lengths to bring rival political factions together. While unsuccessful so far, the GNA has brought the clear majority of Libya under unified control, strengthening the fight against poverty. 
  7. While the U.N. successfully brokered the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement, progress in reaching peace between political bodies has stalled. Initially, the agreement sought to establish a temporary government to house both rival parliaments in order to bring them into dialogue. However, further talks between rival factions have fallen apart. This has left many to speculate the need for a new agreement to be reached as the current Libyan Political Agreement has clearly become null and void.
  8. In southern Libya, ethnic groups have been in armed conflict with each other or the national government ever since the country’s civil war. This has caused many in the region to fall into crippling poverty. Tribes often shut down oil facilities as a means to negotiate, but this leaves many in the region who are dependent on those jobs in dire circumstances.
  9. Ethnic groups and rival political factions are not the only groups contributing to poverty in Libya. ISIS formally established itself in 2014 and has since carried out countless attacks ever since, including a car bombing in recent elections.
  10. As a result of these continued issues, more than 180,000 Libyan citizens remain internally displaced. Due to this displacement, most do not have jobs and remain extremely impoverished. Many citizens left their homes during the civil war and are now attempting to return, but do not have the financial resources to do so.

These facts about poverty in Libya are complex and rapidly changing. While there is still considerable uncertainty for poverty in Libya, and for the country itself, Libya has already taken important steps forward. These steps will hopefully lift the country out of poverty and restore its economic power in the region.

– Sam Kennedy
Photo: Google

Girls' Education in LibyaLibyan women are progressing in society because of a stronger commitment to tearing down barriers to gender equality. New policies such as the Libyan General National Congress’ funding of a study abroad program for the country’s top young scholars have opened doors for improving girls’ education in Libya.

The Funding Initiative

The program has sent educators and students alike to receive training at elite international schools to spur development upon return. The government pays for the student’s expenses and awards them a monthly stipend of 1,600 euros a month. Initially, the fund gave scholarships to students who fought in militias during the civil war but was later expanded to allow women and handicapped students to receive scholarships as well.

This legislation built on an already strong commitment to education made by previous Libyan governments. Former president Muammar Gaddafi made it mandatory and free for all students to attain a primary education. Mandating a public school education transformed Libya from a largely illiterate country before its independence to having 80 percent of its population receiving a primary education.

Education Policies in Libya

Coeducational schools were built across east Libya to accommodate the influx of students. West Libya still has male and female students attend separate schools, but the curriculum is regulated by the government as an incentive for students to choose fields that benefit the nation’s current need. A standardized curriculum helps level the playing field for all students.

The results of these policies have been largely successful for girls’ education in Libya, but the country still has a long road to true equality in education. The Libya Status of Women survey found that 52 percent of Libyan women reached secondary education or higher, compared to 53 percent of Libyan men. Both men and women are achieving similar levels of higher education which will help combat gender economic inequality. Additionally, 77 percent of female students under the age of 25 reported having plans to complete  secondary education or higher compared to 67 percent of men.

More Work to be Done

Women are striving for positions in extremely skilled and specialized positions which increases their economic desirability. These numbers are especially impressive given Libya’s recent civil war that devastated the region. Following the revolution against the Gaddafi regime, 15 schools were completely destroyed resulting in tens of thousands of students not finishing their school years. The education system has demonstrated great resilience in this chaos which has greatly benefited girls’ education in Libya.

Despite these promising statistics, Libya still has to address several areas of gender inequality in its education systems to promote girls’ education across the country. The same Libya Status of Women survey also discovered that 14 percent of Libyan girls failed to finish their first six years of basic education, compared to only three percent of boys. Unfortunately, cultural stereotypes of females still put them at a systemic disadvantage. This is especially the case in rural Libya. The schools are coeducational, but boys are required to sit at the front of the class and girls in the back. West Libya faces a similar problem. The boys’ schools are given priority in government resources because it is believed they will become more skilled workers.

Opening the study abroad program to women demonstrates the current administration’s commitment to gender equality in education which will hopefully combat the disparity observed in the primary education completion rate. These efforts need to extend to rural communities in Libya to maximize effectiveness.

The future looks very optimistic for Libyan women as activists continue to pressure the government to install change. Since 1955, notable women’s rights movements have helped level the playing field for women in education and continue to be an effective driver of change. Libyan women are continually becoming more educated and some of the most skilled workers in society.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access In LibyaThe monetary crisis currently entangling Libyan families has reached unprecedented levels as of late. Credit access in Libya has become a major issue, almost comparable to the ongoing civil war that began in 2014. The only difference is that the latter has somewhat declined whereas the former has become a more rampant issue than ever before.

Starting in 2014, chronic shortages of dinar banknotes and weak valuation of Libyan currency have caused serious problems for Libyans, who are forced to spend their days lining up in front of banks in order to cash their paychecks or simply withdraw some money, only to find out that it cannot be done.

Political Instability a Roadblock to Credit Access in Libya

One of the main factors that has contributed to the lack of credit access in Libya is the precarious political scenario that has effectively held the country hostage. Political stability is all but necessary to kickstart any economy, and Libya has been struggling to achieve this. Ever since the Libyan Political Agreement was reached in Skhirat in December 2015, Libyans have been living under a divided and problematic system.

The eastern part of the country, controlled by the House of Representatives, is based in Tobruk and supported by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army, but this conglomerate of political and military forces does not support nor recognize the Government of National Accord in Tripoli, which was established by the agreement and has international support.

In economic terms, this unstable political situation resulted in nominal GDP in 2016 falling by more than half compared to 2010, to $33.2 billion from $73.6 billion, and per capita income dropping to $5,000 in 2016 from more than $11,000 in 2010. Furthermore, those who took over the country after Qaddafi’s death kept the regime’s welfare system in place, which has been spending at unsustainable levels. Much of the clientelism, corruption and misappropriation that characterized the old regime has been allowed to continue.

Political instability also has led to a forceful block of hydrocarbon infrastructure by armed militias in the summer of 2013.  Such action caused oil production to drop precipitously, from 1.45 million barrels per day in May 2013 to only 220,000 barrels per day in November 2013.

Immediate Efforts to Address the Credit Access Crisis

The most important step in alleviating the currently disastrous status of credit access in Libya is working towards political stability. However, more short-term efforts to remedy the situation are also underway.

In October 2017, public authorities, businesses and international donors gathered in Tripoli to discuss ways to improve access to finance for entrepreneurs in Libya. Many political authorities were present at the meeting, such as Ahmed Maitieg, Libya’s deputy Prime Minister, and Johannes Han, European Union Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. This meeting established a new program funded by Libyan banks to provide €74 million of standard and subsidized loans to small and medium-sized businesses in 2018.

Such strategies can help small businesses survive and grow in the midst of the larger work towards political stability in Libya. Both short and long-term efforts are needed to create lasting stability and resolve the current credit access crisis.

– Luca Di Fabio
Photo: Flickr


There has been a battle over national governance in Libya ever since the dismantling of the Muammar Gaddafi authoritarian regime in the 2011 Arab Spring. A majority of Libyans are hopeful for a unified democratic governance in Libya; unfortunately, the Fragile State Index has listed Libya in the top 25 most fragile states in the world.

Political History in Libya

Dr. Federica Saini Fasanotti, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, described that “Libya has never been (truly) unified.” In a conversation on October 6, 2017 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) headquarters, Dr. Fasanotti described the historical significance of conflicts and changes of power in relation to rule of law in Libya.

Throughout the history of Libya, the state had many different rulers, contributing to the divided government. Up until 1911, the country was an autonomous territory under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. After 1911, Libya was controlled by the Italians in the western world’s quest for colonies. Then, in 1951, the Allied powers of World War II granted Libya independence, and the state created a federal constitution and monarchy; in 1969, Muammar Gaddafi led a coup d’état of the monarch.

Local, Regional and Strategic Issues

Dr. Fasanotti described the three fundamental issues to democratic governance in Libya. The local issue is the many internal divisions caused by the history of political upheavals and usage of tactics like Gaddafi’s ‘divide and rule’ concept — a tactic where  different ethnicities and tribes are pitted against one another. The regional issue is the absence of current leadership to direct the country on the path of democratic governance. The strategic issue is the presence of terrorism, troublesome migration patterns and economic beneficial resources.

Alice Hunt Friend, a Senior Fellow with the International Security Program at the CSIS, stated,“It is very hard to take these complex, contingent situations and hundreds of years of history and translate it into prescriptive policies.”

Civil Society Formation by USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the project of Libya Elections and Governance Support Program to create effective practices for sub-national governance. The duration of the program is from October 2012 to September 2019.

The goal of creating municipal governments in Libya has served as an attempt to fill the national governance void. In the southern desert city of Sabha, the USAID assisted in the formation of a community center to provide the citizens the opportunity to engage in the decision-making process.

Uniting Communities

The community center attempts to create partnerships between people of different ethnicities and tribes to form ideas out of mutual interest. The additional partnership between local leaders and citizens assists in creating transparency and credibility with the government.

To have local municipalities work together to create a stable national government — like the community center in Sabha — is the goal of the civil society formation by the USAID; local authorities’ soft power has extremely high value. 

Democratic governance in Libya has a formulation in municipalities and initiatives at the local level that once implemented, can reach national proportions.

– Andrea Quade
Photo: Flickr

civil war in LibyaIn Feb. 2011, civilians in Libya, inspired by the Arab spring, took part in protests against their government. Muammar Gadhafi has held complete control over power and wealth in Libya ever since overthrowing King Idris in 1969. Civil war in Libya broke out in early 2011 as rebels rose up in response to a police crackdown on protesters.

In 2011, during the civil war in Libya, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed. Those killed included civilians, government forces and rebels.

On Feb. 16, 2011, anti-government protests in Benghazi met violent opposition from police. Protests quickly spread to the capital of Tripoli, and more than 200 people were killed. The conflict escalated from Feb. 16 to Feb. 21, on which day Gadhafi made a speech vowing to die a martyr rather than step down.

The conflict drew international interest for humanitarian and economic reasons. Libya has a significant standing as one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world. It produces two percent of the world’s oil supply.

In March 2011, French, British and American forces took action in Libya. More than 110 missiles fired from American and British ships hit about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets. A week later, NATO agreed to take command of the mission and enforced a no-fly zone over Libya. In October, Gadhafi was found and killed by rebel forces.

Seven years later, Libyans are still feeling the aftershocks of the conflict. According to Amnesty International’s most recent report on Libya, there are now three rival governments competing for power in the country.

The U.N. backs the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj based in the capital of Tripoli. The GNA has been unable to enforce authority over the area. The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar, refuses to recognize the GNA and continues to fight for control of Libya. The rest of the country is ruled by local militias and Islamist groups, including ones linked to ISIS.

The direct humanitarian impact of the civil war in Libya is that hundreds of thousands of people across the country are now living in unsafe conditions with little access to healthcare, food, safe drinking water, shelter and education. An estimated 100,000 people are in need of international protection and 226,000 internally displaced people.

A disturbing development of a slave trade has also become apparent in Libya. According to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Libyans and migrants are being detained and sold in open slave markets. Due to the split governments, no authority is able to stop the human rights abuses.

Civilians in Libya continue to suffer as a result of the conflict. The desire for reform was well-intentioned, but the transfer of power following the death of Gadhafi did not go as planned. The resulting fracture of the country has thrown Libya into turmoil without any indication of ending.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to LibyaDespite showing movement towards democratic values in 2011, when an armed uprising stripped longtime dictator Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi of his hold on the country, Libya’s civil and political rights regressed back to a state of chaos. The country is currently plagued by feuding regimes, organized criminals and factions of the Islamic State all fighting over power in the country. This makes it more important than ever that the United States delivers humanitarian aid to the struggling nation. However, such aid stands to improve conditions not only in Libya; the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Libya as well.

Current Efforts

Currently, the United States is set to deliver $31 million in foreign aid to Libya in 2018. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that half of this will be spent protecting the country’s weakened representative governing bodies and shifting the country’s values towards those of democratic governance and humanitarianism. The United States hopes to spread these values by working with smaller grassroots movements and entrepreneurs in order to establish a stronger civil society that will hold government officials accountable. The vast majority of the remaining half of the $31 million is aimed at stopping the spread of terrorist cells that pose a threat to Libyan citizens and the United States of America.

Protection from Terrorism

One of the primary reasons the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Libya is national security. By fighting the spread of extremist groups and working to create a robust and peaceful civil society, the United States does more than spread humanitarian values; it also protects itself from future terrorist threats. In stopping the spread of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in North Africa, the United States is halting the further spread of extremism and, with the development of a strong civil society, making it harder for terrorist groups to establish themselves in the region. Weak and vulnerable communities that are already lacking in civil and political rights tend to serve as prime targets for terrorist groups to infiltrate.

By strengthening these communities with foreign aid, the United States removes opportunities for the further expansion of terrorism and reduces the likelihood of violent insurgencies. In the long run, foreign aid to Libya is an investment in the continued security of the United States, and one of the proven strategies for solving the problem of extremism.

Economic Development

The remaining money that is not spent on fighting extremism and promoting humanitarian values in Libya is dedicated to the further economic development of Libya’s private sector. This is important to establish regional security, as a stronger economy helps build communities and promote a representative and accountable method of governance. Furthering the economic development of Libya also serves to benefit the economy of the United States. A Libyan populace with more spending capital, along with a stronger national GDP and a functioning government, promotes global economic development and provides a new market for exports from the United States, strengthening the U.S. economy and spurring the creation of new jobs.

Helping Others Does Not Hurt the U.S.

Americans often worry that spending money promoting the economic and political development of other countries somehow hurts the U.S. economy and the nation’s own citizens. This thinking is deeply flawed. Research shows the opposite to be true. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Libya, as the United States is not only helping Libyans lift themselves out of poverty and political turmoil, but such aid also improves America’s own national security and economic development.  Clearly, continued investment in Libya vital is to future United States efforts at home and around the globe.

– Shane Summers

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in LibyaAs a country that consists mostly of the Sahara Desert, Libya has a brutally dry climate that does not lend itself to agriculture. Between the lack of natural resources and low rainfall levels, freshwater supply in Libya is limited. Water for the agriculture industry has to be sourced from dams and aquifers, but it also has to be shared for domestic use. Only 5 percent of the land is farmable and it is easily exhausted, making sustainable agriculture in Libya a challenge.

The physical and economic climates of the country do not support a healthy agriculture industry. Fortunately, the oil industry makes up the majority of the country’s income now. Though sustainable agriculture in Libya used to make up a third of the country’s gross revenue, as of 2008 agriculture only accounts for 1.87 percent of Libya’s income.

The country’s economy does not depend on agriculture, but the population is starting to face the threat of food insecurity without a sustainable agriculture industry. The Libyan crisis forced the emigration of many laborers in the country. Agricultural production dropped and resulted in a major increase in food imports.  The residents who have remained in Libya during the crisis are experiencing life in a food desert, forcing them to forgo necessities like medical care in order to pay for food.  

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. has been attempting to combat these threats by providing resources such as pest control, quality seeds, technical assistance and education to Libyan farmers. In 2017, the FAO supplied a $3.5 million grant to strengthen the capacities of the agriculture industry.

Additionally, water pockets found throughout the desert have spurred the government to sanction new agriculture projects to utilize the hidden desert resources.

While the Libyan government and the FAO focus on resurrecting sustainable agriculture in Libya, organizations like the World Food Programme are helping families get the food they need in the meantime. Continued focus on maximizing the available resources will help sustainable agriculture in Libya reach its full potential.

– Anna Sheps

Photo: Flickr


Desperate citizens of Libya, especially in the country’s capital Tripoli, are using Libyan social media in a unique way. The people of Libya send helpful information that might say something like, “red light,” to signal an area where militia is fighting or perhaps even taking people for ransom.

The country has been hit with turmoil and danger, as they are three years into their civil war, and is fraught with economic collapse and militia violence. The country is mostly ungoverned, and without safety or regulations being taken, human trafficking and poor treatment of migrants is becoming common.

The citizens on Libyan social media have created groups on Facebook to exchange helpful information on things like where to find petrol stations containing supplies, banks with currency and medicine. The posts also let people know occurrences of danger and violence, and areas of caution.

The militia recently shut off water valves that pump water to the city from the large underground reservoirs in the Sahara; as a result, the residents are desperately looking for water bottles, drawing water from ancient wells and drilling through pavement to get access to water. This can be contaminated water and could potentially cause an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Thankfully, though, social media has been a resource outlet for people to find places with safe drinking water.

With all of the complications and fears the country faces, Libyan social media has become a successful way to quickly spread crucial information about the current situation. Many migrants look to the Facebook groups to warn them of certain areas where it is more likely to become subject to sexual abuse or sold as slaves.

Help came to the country through the installation of the International Organization for Migration, an organization that plans to carry out numerous strategies for evacuating migrants. The effort of relocating people safely is dangerous and difficult due to the lack of government safety, but the use of Libyan social media has played a significant role in successfully aiding others in the meantime.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr