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Women’s Rights in Libya The movement for women’s rights in Libya has deep roots that date back a century. Libyan women acquired the right to vote in 1920, and women’s rights groups in Libya date back to the 1950s. In spite of this, the Gaddafi regime instituted a series of repressions that targeted women across its four-decade rule, rolling back civil rights and exacerbating their de facto exclusion from the Libyan political and economic spheres. Since a popular uprising violently deposed strongman leader, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011, instability in the North African nation has left its women in a state of political flux.

Women’s Rights in an Unstable Nation

In Libya’s post-Gaddafi era, attempts at consolidating rival administrations into a unified national government have systematically failed. Since 2014, two governments, the General National Congress based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives (or Tobruk Government) based in Tobruk, have fought for control of Libya against one another and other regional factions. Because of consistent fighting, the situation in Libya has at times resembled anarchy.

International relations think tank, Freedom House, in its 2020 annual Freedom in the World Report, designated Libya as “not free” with a score of 9/100. Its sub-scores in political rights and civil liberties rank at 1/40 and 8/60 respectively. Regarding women, Freedom House summarizes that “Women are not treated equally under the law and face practical restrictions on their ability to participate in the workforce.”

Further, the report states that many of the laws implemented under Libya’s warring governments are based on Sharia (Islamic Law) and personally disadvantage women in bodily autonomy, marital and financial status as well as civil liberties. Domestic violence is not directly criminalized and most instances go unreported. Further, Libyan law imposes penalties for extramarital sex and allow rapists to escape punishment by coercing their victims into marriage. As a general trend, Freedom House notes, “communities that lacked an affiliation with powerful militia were especially marginalized.”

International Organizations Report on Women in Libya

Because of Libya’s rampant factional violence, the Netherlands-based global advocacy organization, Cordaid, reports that violence against women at the hands of militias frequently goes unpunished. Cordaid also notes that restricted freedom of movement, driven by fear of violence, is leading to declines in schooling among women and girls.

The Atlantic Council, another globally-oriented policy think tank, points out that sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and forced prostitution are common practices in many conflicts. Of the hundreds of thousands of Libyan civilians currently displaced in refugee camps, a large proportion are women and children at risk of militia aggression. And after 2019 the abduction of Representative Seham Serghewa, a rights activist, Atlantic Council cites a larger pattern of violence and disappearances leveled against Libyan women in government.

Present Women’s Rights Work

In the face of continual conflict, networks of advocacy organizations continue to work on behalf of women’s rights in Libya. Some examples are:

  • The Libyan Women’s Union, established in 2012, works to support women in and around Tripoli by providing resources for women affected by violence, hosting courses and workshops to facilitate women’s political participation and professional development and spreading awareness for Libyan women in elections.
  • The Libya Women’s Forum, since its founding in 2011, runs courses in English language and legal literacy, trains women to communicate more effectively, facilitates joint dialogue sessions between women and men and helps draft laws advancing women’s rights in Libya.
  • International organization Jurists Without Chains publishes research advocating on behalf of women’s rights, female candidates, expanded suffrage and active political participation of women in Libya, along with holding workshops on women’s roles in human development.
  • Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice supports local women’s advocacy organizations in Libya through technical planning and consultancy, advocacy and network-building. These efforts culminate in the hosting of national conferences containing over 100 local organizations working to advance women’s rights in Libya.  

The Future of Gender Equality in Libya

In spite of the advocacy, education, support and other work being completed on behalf of Libyan women, issues associated with gender, including violence, sexual and marital repression and politically motivated violence, are endemic to Libya’s larger structural issues such as its ongoing civil war. Advancing women’s rights in Libya means ending the conflict and returning the country to a baseline of stability.

– Skye Jacobs
Photo: Flickr

Flooding in LibyaLibya has been a regular victim of severe flooding for many decades and the problem is only becoming more severe. Heavy rains have caused significant problems, with flooding and landslides in urban and rural areas making day-to-day life infeasible for thousands.

Flooding in Al-Bayda, Libya

On November 6 2020, Al-Bayda, Libya, experienced torrential rains and extreme flooding, resulting in the displacement of thousands. High water levels on public roads have made daily commutes impossible for many. Additionally, the floods have left thousands without electricity and have greatly damaged properties.

The flooding of 2020 is reminiscent of the flooding in the Ghat district in 2019, which affected 20,000 people and displaced 4,500. In June of 2019, flooding devastated areas in south Libya and damaged roads and farmland.  Central infrastructure suffered unrecoverable damages, setting the region back. Areas prone to disaster are significantly limited in their progression and development when devastation is so frequent.

Flooding and Poverty

The pattern of flooding in Libya has consistently contributed to problems of economic decline, poor infrastructure and poverty. As one of the most common natural disasters, flooding impacts impoverished areas more severely because their infrastructure is not built to withstand floods or landslides.

Poor countries take a long time to recover from the impact of flooding because they do not have the resources and money to repair property damage and help people to bounce back from the effects. War-affected countries are even more vulnerable and Libya is such a country affected by war and conflict.

Within the country, a two-day holiday was declared on November 9 and 10 of 2020 due to the extreme flooding and $7 million has been allocated to address damages in Al-Bayda municipality.  Since the flooding, there has been little recognition and support from the international community.

Humanitarian Aid

A humanitarian aid team from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation (ECHO) assembled to provide aid to support the city of Al-Bayda and other cities vulnerable to flooding in Libya. The team worked to gather information and identify what resources are most needed to help families get back on their feet and be better prepared for future severe flooding and weather. Cleanup efforts are ongoing and teams started using satellite imaging and other data-collecting resources to help assess and plan for resource distribution.

The Need for Foreign Aid in Libya

In response to Libya’s chronic vulnerability to severe flooding, in 2019, the U.S. Government provided nearly $31.3 million to address the humanitarian needs of conflict-affected populations throughout Libya. Since the floods are ongoing, ongoing assistance is needed. Proactive and preventative measures need to be implemented in response to the devastating pattern of flooding in Libya. These are expensive investments, however, and Libya cannot implement these preventative measures alone. Help from the international community is crucial in order to create a more resilient country.

– Allyson Reeder
Photo: Flickr

Corruption in Libya

For decades, Libya has endured countless accounts of corruption committed by the government, the militia and major oil corporations. The corruption in Libya derives from what political scientists call a “resource curse,” a term used to describe a nation that tends to have less economic growth and a weaker democracy due to its abundance of natural resources. Oil production has made the nation susceptible to corruption, leading the country into a civil war due to persistent violence and political unrest. Here are ten facts about corruption in Libya.

10 Facts about Corruption in Libya

  1. In 2018, Libya ranked as 170 least corrupt out of 175 countries, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. In the same year, Libya also scored a low 17 out of 100 in the Corruption Perception Index. The corruption primarily derives from the government, the public sector and private businesses.
  2. Corruption in Libya began during Muammar Gaddafi’s rule from 1969 to 2011. Gaddafi’s regime received billions of dollars in bribes from wealthy corporations to make illegal deals in the energy sector. A total of $65 billion of Libya’s wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), was held in private accounts instead of going toward public expenditures. While Gaddafi’s regime was profiting off of Libya’s national assets, more than 40 percent of the Libyan population lived below the poverty line.
  3. Eighty percent of Libya’s GDP and 99 percent of government revenue comes from oil production. In 2018, foreign exports of oil in Libya brought in revenues totaling $24.5 billion. The central bank in Tripoli controls these funds and is responsible for disbursing them throughout the country, but at the time there were no laws in Libya that demand the transparency of the bank to disclose the use of state funds with their constituents.
  4. Libya has anti-corruption laws; however, lax enforcement permits widespread corruption practices such as embezzlement and bribery among the public procurement sector. According to Libya’s Criminal Code, the Law on Economic Crimes and the Law on Abuse of Position or Occupation, “the abuse by a public official of his or her position or functions to obtain a benefit for himself or herself or for others” is established as an offense. Despite anti-corruption laws, the weakness of Libya’s institutional framework has given leeway to Libyan officials to misappropriate funds. Head of Organisation for Development of Administrative Centres (ODAC) Ali Ibrahim Dabaiba misappropriated nearly $7 billion in national assets and laundered them into personal bank accounts abroad. These funds were designated to go toward Libya’s public infrastructure, but Dabaiba instead put the money toward his interests, such as purchasing luxury hotels in Scotland.
  5. Corruption in Libya remains rampant even after the revolution and the assassination of Gaddafi in 2011. After the first civil war, violence and political instability persisted throughout Libya, and government ministers and the military have conflicted control of the country. General Khalifa Haftar is the leader of the militant offensive, and he promises to combat Islamist militias. However, through mobilizing the military to fight armed groups throughout the country and seize control of major cities, violence became even more prevalent and a second civil war was initiated in 2014. Haftar’s group, the Libyan National Army (LNA), has attacked several sites in the city of Tripoli. His military force has killed a total of 443 people, injuring more than 2,000, and displacing nearly 60,000 civilians in pursuit of gaining control over the territory.
  6. Corruption in law enforcement is also prevalent in Libya. Several reports show police officers engaging in malpractice including bribery, embezzlement, nepotism and extortion. According to a survey conducted by the Departments of Research and Studies of Organization for Transparency Libya, respondents ranked the police highest in spreading corruption. Some cases of police corruption that researchers discovered include police officers stopping drivers, seizing their drivers’ licenses and extorting drivers in exchange for their licenses.
  7. Activists and media workers across the nation of Libya are being silenced. In 2017, 11 out of 18 political, civil, and human rights activists and personalities, polled by the Human Rights Watch in Tripoli and Zawiyah, claimed to have been threatened by state militia, government, and armed groups, three have been attacked or harassed, and nine claims to fear for their lives after receiving threats. In 2016, the Libyan Center for Freedom of the Press (LCFP) reported that 107 media workers were attacked by armed groups including two journalists who were killed.
  8. Transparency International is one of the major organizations combating corruption in Libya. They aim to stop corruption in governments, businesses, and civil societies through the “creation of international anti-corruption conventions and the prosecution of corrupt leaders and seizures of their illicitly gained riches.” They have pushed legislation that has made bribing foreign officials illegal by enforcing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, which requires members to outlaw bribery of officials. For instance, In 2017, an investigation in France on Société Générale bank was opened because of its payment of $58.5 million to a Panama-registered company as part of a scheme to secure its business in Libya. A settlement was reached, and Société Générale committed to pay a total of €500 million to close this procedure.
  9. Civil Initiatives Libya (CIL) is a project that aims to empower and support civil society organizations (CSO). CIL is funded by the European Union and implemented by ACTED in 15 different municipalities in Libya. This initiative is imperative to solving corruption because CSOs are able to promote civic engagement and local governance, which can increase the fairness of the Libyan government. CIL centers provide facilities, technical assistance and funding to over 700 CSOs across Libya. In 2012, over 1,400 NGO representatives benefited from CIL’s facilities and training services. The project also involves hosting CSO events, workshops and training that revolves around women and youth empowerment. CIL has expanded the capacity of many CSOs and has made them strong and politically visible enough to be able to lobby the government and acquire funding from the national budget.
  10. Global Witness is a nonprofit that works to protect human rights by exposing corruption in nations that have an abundance of natural resources, including Libya. Their work involves holding hard-hitting investigations on corruption scandals in pursuit of holding corrupt leaders accountable. Their strategies include secret filming, satellite imagery and drone footage, data analysis of companies, and using anonymous sources. Through their resources, Global Witness is able to release detailed investigations on corruption all over the world and advocate for those who are victims of corruption by launching campaigns that bring awareness to global injustices. In 2002, Global Witness, Transparency International and many other NGOs co-launched the Publish What You Pay campaign, which mandates oil, gas and mining companies around the world to disclose their net taxes, fees, royalties and other payments. This campaign led to the creation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Since its launch, the EITI has put $2.4 trillion of oil, gas and mining revenues in the public domain.

These 10 facts about corruption in Libya illustrate the prevalence of abuse and fraudulence in Libya. However, even though corruption still permeates Libya’s institutions, efforts from around the world continue to prevent any further corruption by holding public officials accountable for their crimes.

If support from nonprofits, civil societies and advocates persists, Libya may be able to mobilize their local governments to sustain a better democracy and resist violent and corrupt regimes.

– Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Dhaka Tribune

malnutrition in libya

Malnutrition impacts children all over the world, particularly those who are poor or who reside in poorer countries. In Libya, rates for children who experience stunting, wasting and are overweight — the three main effects of malnutrition — are all moderate to very high, indicating that the nation has a lot of work to do to decrease these numbers and improve nutrition and health.

Malnutrition in Libya is exacerbated by the prevalence of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Libya, as many attempt to use the nation as a crossing point to reach Europe. A recent analysis of migrant detention facilities has shown that malnutrition is prevalent in these centers.

Comparing Libya to Global Trends

Worldwide, 21.9 percent of children under five have stunted growth as a result of malnutrition, a significant decrease from 2000, when the rate was nearly 33 percent. Stunting refers to impaired cognitive skills that often lead to a decrease in school and work performance, negatively impacting children for the rest of their lives. Rates are highest in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where many countries continue to have a rate of 30 percent or higher.

Libya is just below the global average, with 21 percent of children experiencing stunting.

Wasting is the rapid loss of body weight due to malnutrition. Based on UNICEF estimates, 7.3 percent of children globally are wasted and 2.4 percent are severely wasted, with the highest rates in South Asia, followed by West and Central Africa. Rates in Libya are classified as medium, as 5 to 10 percent of children under 5 are wasted. This is comparable to the global average of 7.3 percent.

Complications of Malnutrition

Malnutrition can also cause children to be overweight. Overnutrition is a form of malnutrition that occurs when there is an imbalance in protein, energy and micronutrients in someone’s diet, often resulting in obesity. Not only is it important to eat food, but it is also important to eat the right combination of foods to have a healthy diet.

Globally, 5.9 percent of children under five are overweight, with the highest rates in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. Libya is classified as very high, as more than 15 percent of children under five are overweight. This indicates that poor nutrition is one of the most serious food-related issues that Libya faces.

Efforts by the World Food Programme

Malnutrition in Libya has received global attention, and the World Food Programme has stepped in to fight food insecurity. As a nation with a largely desert environment, agriculture is limited, causing Libya to rely heavily on imported food. The country’s current trade deficit has a significant impact on the availability of food and proper nutrition, as prosperous trade is essential to feeding the nation.

To counteract this, the World Food Programme partners with four local organizations, LibAid, the Kafaa Development Foundation, the Sheikh Taher Azzawi Charity Organization (STACO) and the Ayady Al Khair Society (AKS), as well as the UN Country Team and Security Management Team. These local organizations work closely with communities experiencing malnutrition in Libya to determine the amount of need in particular areas.

The World Food Programme then provides onsite food distributions to vulnerable and malnourished families, with each family receiving two food parcels, which can feed five people over the course of a month. The parcels contain pasta, rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, chickpeas, sugar and tomato paste, all of which provide approximately 75 percent of daily energy requirements. The parcels are meant to be used alongside other food sources, providing access to certain nutrients that are otherwise unavailable.

A Focus on Migrants, Refugees and IDPs

Migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are the most in need of food assistance worldwide.  Approximately 60 percent of IDPs are vulnerable to food insecurity. As a result, the World Food Programme focuses many of its food distribution efforts on IDPs and other migrants in Libya, as they are among the most vulnerable to malnutrition in Libya.

Many migrants in Libya are out of reach of the World Food Programme as hundreds of detainees are in migrant detention facilities. In March 2019, a detention center in Tripoli came under fire after Doctors Without Borders published nutrition assessments and determined that almost one quarter of those in the center were malnourished or underweight.

Those held in detention facilities are entirely dependent on the Libyan authorities for the food they receive, and Doctors Without Borders found that many only receive one meal every two or three days and that those who are new arrivals sometimes do not receive food for four days.

Doctors Without Borders Respond

In response to this crisis, Doctors Without Borders began providing emergency food rations to ensure that food needs will be met in the future. Karline Kleijer, the head of emergencies for Doctors Without Borders, stated that “If food, shelter and essential services can’t be provided in a consistent and appropriate manner, then these people should be released immediately by the Libyan authorities.”

Hopefully, with the efforts of organizations like the World Food Programme and Doctors Without Borders malnutrition in Libya will continue to be addressed, and the plight of migrants will soon be recognized and responded to by the Libyan government. Malnutrition is clearly a mounting crisis that requires attention as soon as possible.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Women's empowerment in LibyaLibya, one of the largest countries in Africa, is located west of Egypt. Since 2014, Libya has been struggling with its second civil war which has affected the Libyan social structure. Though women have lost social status and power they once had, there are several organizations that are dedicated to restoring women’s empowerment in Libya through its political and economic social structures.

2011 was an inspiring time for Libyans. With the conclusion of Gaddafi’s rule, it was an opportune time to make changes to the political environment. The National Transitional Council, which was the first government authority after the Libyan Civil War, was comprised of 96 percent men and four percent women. There was also no representation of women in city councils at this time.

In 2014, the number of females elected to parliament was 16 percent, which it remains at to this day. Each city council was also mandated to elect at least one woman as one of their six members. However, the Zintan and Jadou councils have explicitly denied women representation.

The United Nations (U.N.) is taking action to increase women’s empowerment in Libya as well. The U.N. has made calls to force Libya to adopt a quota of 30 percent female representation within its current government, the Government of National Accord (GNA). As of March 2017, only six percent of the GNA were women. Hopefully, Libya will take these calls seriously and increase women’s representation in the government.

Along with increasing their political influence, Libyan women are focusing on becoming a more vocal force in the economic system of Libya. In October 2013, the Libya Women Economic Empowerment (LWEE) project was started to work towards providing women roles in the economy.  Over the past four years, 200 women attended business development training and 300 women entrepreneurs were given specific training on business skills.

Not only did they teach women how to start their business, but they held a competition among women entrepreneurs. The 20 winners received grants that enabled them to start a brand new business or to expand an existing business. The LWEE also held events where female business owners and managers were able to network with each other and establish connections that would lead to future business partnerships and support.

It has been difficult for women to make a name for themselves in the business world. Since the implementation of the LWEE project, women entrepreneurs have been able to take full credit for the work they have done. This is such an important step since, in many cultures and societies, men are given credit for the accomplishments that women make. Women’s empowerment in Libya is on the rise and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

– Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

Education in LibyaEducation in Libya was faced with the tall task of rebuilding the war-torn infrastructure following the 2011 fall of former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi.

The Libyan regime under Gaddafi saw education centralized. This meant that schoolchildren learned a skewed geography, used symbols and units of measurement that did not match international norms and the curriculum was tightly controlled for the purposes of indoctrination.

After years of conflict and the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, the international community was tasked with rebuilding the country. Now, two million children under the age of 15 have seen a drastic overhaul of their formal education. Working alongside Libyan authorities, organizations such as UNICEF made great strides to jumpstart the educational system. Within months, schools were operational and steps were being made to reinvent the curriculum.

Educational experts are now in a position to correct the impacts of Gaddafi’s influence. Libyan schoolchildren are now using accurate maps and standardized symbols. Of more cultural importance, Libya’s children are able to openly discuss their country’s history, including the events that led to Gaddafi’s rise to power and subsequent fall.

Despite the newly revamped curriculum, higher education comes at a cost. During the Gaddafi era, education was compulsory but completely free of charge. Indeed, the government funded study abroad if certain educational programs could not be accessed within the country. Students in tertiary, or higher education programs are widely accessible in Libya today but are no longer funded by the government.

In spite of Gaddafi’s infamous legacy, his reign was also marked by irrefutable gains in the educational system. Libya’s citizens enjoyed unparalleled access to education and the literacy rate increased from 25 percent to 87 percent.

However, education in Libya has improved dramatically since 2011. Gaddafi’s fall opened the country to a much-needed overhaul of the curriculum. Libya and the international community continue to make strides to solve factual inadequacies while maintaining its access to education. Furthermore, the literacy rate of 15-24-year-olds in Libya is a staggering 99.9 percent.

While it may not be a perfect system, the educational system in Libya can serve as a guide to countries tasked with rebuilding their infrastructure.

Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Libya

Poverty in Libya is notoriously hard to define. An estimate based on surveys of sub-groups puts about one-third of Libya’s population below the poverty line. However, no specific figure exists.

Libya’s economy is directly dependent on its political stability, as most countries are. The country struggled with a civil war starting in 2014 which impacted Libya’s economy greatly, due to its dependence on oil and gas exports. Armed conflict between rival forces over control of the largest oil terminals in 2015 caused a decline in crude oil production which has yet to recover. In fact, production today is only at one-third of what it was before this political conflict.

While the government of Libya is officially “in transition,” its leaders historically have not used its financial resources to develop the national infrastructure. As a result, poverty in Libya persists in the form of widespread power outages, limited access to clean drinking water, medical services and safe housing, as well as decreased security due to political instability.

An added threat is the presence of extremists associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who attack Libyan oilfields, further detracting from future government revenue.

The GDP in Libya is estimated to have declined by 10 percent along with a per capita income of less than $4,500. Inflation runs rampant due to high food prices and the tendency of some citizens to stockpile food.

In order to combat poverty in Libya, organizations like the World Bank have committed to supporting Libya’s economic recovery. As of spring 2016, support includes technical assistance, analytical services and trust fund/grant financing.

The World Bank has created threemedium-termm objectives for promoting economic growth in Libya: increasing accountability and transparency, improving the delivery of services and creating jobs. Hopefully these will be accomplished in the near future by partnering with donor agencies and people from different parts of Libya to make sure the plan for recovery is Libyan-owned.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in LibyaLibya was war-torn for centuries before it experienced a brief respite in the spring of 2017; but this North African country has again entered into turmoil. Between rival militias, Egyptian bombing and Arab revolts, Libya has once again become vulnerable and at odds with not only itself but also neighboring countries. Citizens of the U.S. and world now ask how to help people in Libya affected by these conflicts, and thankfully, quite a few options exist.

As Charles R. Swindoll said, “The difference between something good and something great is the attention to detail.” There’s a plethora of possible ways to aid other countries around the globe, and just giving money can be a controversial and often ineffective method of reaching individuals, or the “details.”

Often times, impoverished individuals fail to receive money because donated monetary funds get lost in translation and/or siphoned to the elite; thus, essential money never makes it to the people who need it most. Also in many cases, only a fraction of the money donated to charities actually goes towards the cause because of the charity system’s filtration system.

Although effective and impactful ways to donate to causes such as those in Libya do exist — for example, “effective giving” as endorsed by Forbes, or NPR’s bypassing charities and giving directly to poor people method– here are three of the most impactful ways on how to help people in Libya without utilizing money.

1. Restoring Family Links

Conflicts in Libya separate families and friends on a regular basis. But, thankfully, organizations such as the Libyan Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) work to connect family and friends separated, disconnected or lost due to migration, conflict and/or political and dissident activities.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent operate predominately on a volunteer basis, so the opportunities to become involved in the Libyan Red Crescent are (almost) endless.

2. Signing Petitions

The government and legislation in Libya dictate and incite many of the issues occurring in the country today. From prisoners of war to civilian protection rights, prosecutions and the environment, there exist numerous movements and debates that could really utilize global support.

Helping aid systemic issues can influence a larger portion of the population and create more rapid change in any country, and Libya is no exception to such universal effects.

3. Donating Supplies

Programs that donate supplies directly to impoverished or war-torn areas are commendable options for those that want to help Libya with “on-the-ground” measures. Organizations such as The Red Crescent and ICRC, and Medecins Sans Frontiers provide much-needed supplies, medicines and food directly to Libyan refugees or displaced persons.

Unlike money, this method ensures that the right resources actually get to those in Libya that need it most .

The ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the subsequent breakdown of his government afterwards created different kinds of political, social and fiscal turmoil within the country. With such unrest and displacement at work in this globally influential country, the ways on how to help people in Libya are almost infinite.

Focusing on the individual is critical, but the act of giving is always preferable to no action at all.

Allegra Upton

Photo: Flickr

Why is Libya Poor?Why is Libya poor? Before NATO’s intervention in 2011, it wasn’t. Per capita income stood at almost $12,000, making Libya the wealthiest country in Africa. By 2016, however, five years into its civil war, the average Libyan earned just more than $5,000 per year.

For much of its history, Libya was rich because of its abundant oil reserves. Oil production accounted for 80 percent of Libya’s GDP, providing citizens with free education, healthcare and welfare services.

After the NATO-backed ousting of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, however, a civil war ensued, and rival factions began fighting for control of the government and the oil sector. Amid the chaos, oil production plummeted.

While Islamist militias took control in western Libya, members of Qaddafi’s old regime formed the Libyan National Army (LNA) and migrated to the eastern Tobruk region. In the ungoverned south, violent extremist groups like the Islamic State emerged.

At the same time as the Libyan civil war brought declines in Libyan oil production, oil prices around the globe fell by half, due to technological advances like fracking. In other words, the simple answer to the question “why is Libya poor?” is that oil production fell at the same time as global oil prices.

Beyond damaging oil production, the Libyan civil war continues to ravage Libya’s infrastructure and deter investors from providing the capital necessary for reconstruction. Even foreign assistance from the U.S. has been kept to a minimum due to the severity of the security situation.

In 2015, USAID delegated only $8.3 million for nominal help with democratic elections and good governance.

Despite the dismal outlook between 2011 and 2016, the Libyan economy is finally showing signs of strength. By capitalizing on an exemption from OPEC’s organization-wide oil production cut, Libya has been able to increase its daily production from about 300,000 barrels per day in 2016 to more than 600,000 in 2017. Still, this number represents only about half of what Libya was producing before the civil war. Most of the increase has come from the LNA’s Tobruk region.

If the trend continues, the government in Tobruk may be able to maintain security and facilitate further economic growth, ideally, decreasing the country’s reliance on oil and diversifying the economy. With a more stable government, likewise, the U.S. will be able to step up its developmental commitments. Soon, the question, “why is Libya poor?” may once again become, “why is Libya rich?”

Nathaniel Sher

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in LibyaLibya has long been home to a bounty of natural resources. Despite the potential these resources have to lift many out of poverty, poverty persists in this North African country. In order to improve the quality of life for many Libyans, it is important to understand the causes of poverty in Libya.

Although exact statistics regarding poverty in Libya remain unavailable, it is estimated that roughly 33 percent of Libyans live at or below the poverty line. Many Libyans live without access to clean drinking water or proper sewer systems and struggle to have their basic needs met.

This is despite the fact that Libya is home to Africa’s largest oil reserves and the tenth largest reserves in the world. The country’s economy has long relied on petroleum production; however, this has recently posed poverty-related issues.

Libya’s economy is almost entirely dependent on oil and gas. Oil reserves account for 50 percent of the country’s GDP and 95 percent of its exports. Outside of petroleum production, there is very little economic opportunity to be found in this country. Libya has long been closed off to tourism and international exchange, which limits job opportunities for many.

This has been especially problematic in recent years. Since 2014, Libya has been embroiled in civil war, and oil prices have hit a seven-year low. Crude oil production has been in decline as a result and many continue to live in poverty due to an economy whose development has been hindered by political turmoil.

This political turmoil is another one of the causes of poverty in Libya. Even after the armed rebellion that led to Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, violence and instability continue to plague Libya. Control of the government has changed hands multiple times as a transitional government handed power over to an elected parliament, which voters chose to replace with another elected parliament.

As of yet, these changes have failed to promote peace in Libya. Living conditions continue to decline as civil war ensues and strains local resources. The causes of poverty in Libya are difficult to combat, yet there is still an opportunity for peace to be found.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr