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Child Poverty in Libya: Causes, Effects and Solutions

Child Poverty in LibyaAs of 2023, approximately one-third of the Libyan population is living below the poverty line, indicating a significant issue of child poverty within the country. Consequently, Libya has an assigned score of 6.97/10 on the Realization of Children’s Rights Index (RCRI). This rating categorizes the situation of children’s rights in Libya as “difficult.”


The issue of conflict has played a significant role in exacerbating child poverty in Libya. For instance, the Libyan Revolt of 2011 had a detrimental impact on health care standards, depriving parents and children of essential medical care. As a result, they experienced a reduced ability to work, and this pushed families further into poverty. The uprising also resulted in the loss or injury of many parents, further hindering their capacity to fulfill their work responsibilities effectively. The revolt caused the deaths of at least 1,142 civilians and injured over 1,000, leaving behind orphaned children and intensifying child poverty in Libya.

Another contributing factor to child poverty was the disruption of education during the war. Despite the availability of free schooling, more than 61,000 students were unable to complete their academic term in 2011. Moreover, the destruction of 15 school buildings by bombings exacerbated the educational deficit.


The most damaging effect of child poverty is on the health and well-being of affected children. According to a U.N. report, only 14% of children aged between 6 and 23 months receive the minimum diet as of 2019. The same report reveals that 321,200 children are in need of primary and secondary health services in Libya.

The widespread malnutrition of Libyan children is incredibly damaging to the child’s growth, well-being and development. According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the negative effects of malnutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life include reduced brain development, a weakened immune system and visual impairment.

Another impact of living in a post-conflict and impoverished society comes from the desire to obtain funds regardless of the method. In Libya, many children living in poverty collect and sell weapons and ammunition left over from wartime to earn money for their families. Other kids pick up weapons or shrapnel out of sheer curiosity, relishing in new, shiny, foreign objects. Naturally, this is very dangerous. Unfortunately, some children have injured themselves or unfortunately lost their lives as a result.


Concrete measures exist to alleviate child poverty rates in Libya. Since 2018, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been actively addressing malnutrition in Libya. Through monthly provisions of food and support, the WFP assists around 90,000 vulnerable individuals. Additionally, it offers financial contributions to bolster the country’s social programs. Collaborating with the U.N. and the Government of Libya, the WFP strives to implement effective solutions to reduce child poverty rates in the post-conflict era.

There has been notable progress in reducing infant mortality rates, but further advancements require attention to youth development.

Education stands as the key to breaking the cycle of child poverty in Libya. Education not only alleviates poverty at an individual level but also at a societal level. According to the World Bank, education enhances employment opportunities, fostering economic growth and innovation.

By ensuring improved access to education, this long-term solution aims to break the cycle of child poverty in Libya. In enhancing job prospects for children facing poverty, education plays a crucial role in their empowerment.

The Multi-Year Resilience Programme

There is ongoing progress with respect to addressing the challenging goal of tackling child poverty in Libya. One notable organization working towards this is ‘Education Cannot Wait‘, founded in 2016 by international humanitarian aid and development actors. Its mission is to create a safe learning environment for children affected by crisis. Education Cannot Wait has launched initiatives in crisis-affected countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Iraq and Libya.

The Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP), initiated in 2022 with an investment of $11.1 million, is part of these efforts. The MYRP focuses on improving education access by implementing various strategies. The poorest children receive cash transfers, and this helps to alleviate financial constraints on education. Investments go into training teachers to ensure the delivery of high-quality and inclusive education.

As of June 2023, the MYRP has yielded positive results in Libya. There are currently 723 teachers, and 28,000 children have benefited from additional support in schools, including improved sanitation and access to clean water. Furthermore, 2,975 children have received crucial free meals provided by the schools.

While these efforts show promise, the problem of child poverty in Libya requires further attention. There is a need for more commitment and vigilance from all involved parties working to drive change.

– Tom Eccles
Photo: Unsplash