The Stabilization Facility for Libya: promoting sustainable and inclusive recovery
The crisis that started in 2011 in Libya, led to a significant loss of lives and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and public infrastructure sustained significant damage. In the most affected areas, the delivery of basic services was disrupted and the capacity of national and local institutions to maintain a safety net diminished. Water supply, sanitation and electricity services, education and healthcare delivery were disrupted in many parts of the country.
With support from the international community, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) in April 2016. The Facility was created as a political, social and economic instrument to rebuild public trust and renew the social contract between citizens and the national and local authorities.
In 2019, the Facility expanded its activities to new locations to cover a total of 24 municipalities including the 13 municipalities of Greater Tripoli. In addition, the Facility identified new projects in municipalities where the SFL interventions began in 2016 with the aim of increasing impact on instability in local communities.
Improving daily lives of people in Libya
Development without peace is not sustainable
The SFL started in 2016 undertaking conflict and needs assessments in Ubari, Kikla and Benghazi to evaluate with representatives of local communities the situation and agreed on infrastructure priority rehabilitation interventions. The Facility then expanded to more locations in 2017 and the years that followed. To make sure that SFL’s activities were in line with the priorities and needs of people in each municipality, the SFL held community consultations, with the participation of local and national representatives, community leaders and civil society representatives from each municipality in order to identify the most inclusive and urgent interventions.
Hence, UNDP’s Facility ensures that its activities improve access to health, education, electricity and water and sanitation. All those interventions are helping Libya to achieve step by step the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Through a participatory approach involving local communities, the SFL is making sure all the categories of the population are benefitting from this support. Improving the wellbeing of the people where nobody is left behind is contributing to reduce conflicts. A peaceful society can focus on its development and the latter will be lasting.
UNDP’s SFL works with local organizations such as FLO (Fezzan Libya Organization) in Sebha to ensure conflict sensitivity of its interventions.
Technology rebuilds community trust during COVID-19: Sebha, Libya
''Our organization is working to bring together different sectors of our society. We discuss with local elders, and local authorities how peace and tolerance can be valued and promoted. This is the main road to development for all,'' said Ms. Bushra Alhodiri, President and Operations Manager of Fezzan Libya Organization (FLO), a local peacebuilding organization based in Sebha.
''We work to spread the culture of social peace in the city. We organize dialogue sessions to raise awareness of the importance of rejecting hatred, violence, and extremism and of supporting social peace within our community,'' declared Ms. Ibtisam Mohammed Rahil from the Social Peace Organization in Sirt.
Social Peace Partnership in Sirt
SFL projects have improved the lives of 3.5 million people across Libya. Here are just some examples.
The future in Libya shines with solar energy
“People in Libya need electricity. UNDP’s Stabilization initiative is not just providing them with generators but also with a clean, alternative, solar energy. In this way, it is responding to the urgent needs of the people and providing a long term and sustainable solution,” said Mr. Gerardo Noto, UNDP Libya Resident Representative.
Between 2016 and 2017, UNDP installed solar panels for back-up power in 15 different hospitals across Libya and in one municipal building.
"Doctors don’t have to stop an operation because the power went off. Equipment such as ventilators and the anesthetic machine won’t be damaged. The solar power system means a stable electricity supply, just what we need to continue our work, " affirmed Dr. Said Al-Megrahi, Head of Medical Affairs Department at Al-Kwayfia Hospital in Benghazi.
In January 2020, through the Stabilization Facility for Libya, UNDP completed installation of 40 solar powered streetlights along 2 km in the streets of Tawergha. A second phase is in development and will ultimately provide 150 streetlights along approximatively 3.5 km.
"It was my good fortune that the streetlights were installed in front of my shop. Now I can keep the store open and sell water until late at night. I used to close the shop when the sun went down because there was not enough lighting. This will contribute to boost my business, " declared Mr. Jumaa Mujahid.
The SFL completed a similar project in Ubari where 460 solar streetlights have been installed in the city.
''We do not want it like Dubai, we want it like Ubari!" This is how many people from various cities in Libya commented on social media platforms after seeing the streets of Ubari lit up by streetlights powered by solar panels.
Solar powered street lights in Ubari
In Benghazi, the Stabilization Facility has already installed 377 solar streetlights and is now installing an additional 450 that will cover approximatively 16 km.
Installation is complete in Kufra streets where 160 streetlights have been installed along 9.8 km. In Sebha, 1,087 streetlights will ultimately be installed from the airport to downtown along the main road covering approximatively 10 km.
No economic, social, and cultural improvement is possible without quality education.
The crisis in Libya left many educational institutions damaged throughout the country. The damaged schools did not provide conditions for quality learning. Some of the buildings were even destroyed and then closed. Families moved to other cities where parents could enroll their children in school. Some of the children had to walk long distances while others had to study in the few overcrowded schools that were not damaged.
For Tawergha, the renovation of schools was an incentive for many displaced families to return home.
“More than 500 families have returned to Tawergha after renovation of three schools in the city in September 2020," said Mr. Abd al-Rahman Shakshak, Head of Tawergha Local Council.
Psycho-Social support for returnees children at Tommina Center
At Tagrafet School in Sirt students were attending classes in very challenging conditions, especially during the winter season.''It was very cold. We were basically studying outside in an open deck. I missed several classes because I couldn’t cope with the temperature. The days that I went to the school my rheumatism got worse. It was extremely painful in my feet,'' said Faraj Awad al Fazzani, who was a student at that school in mid-2019. After renovation, the situation was much better.
"The school looks beautiful. I am so happy and proud to study here. I am thrilled to keep learning and pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. I like playing football and I am very happy as well to play with my friends on the recently renovated football ground. I feel now the sky is the limit, I can become a doctor and a football player," Faraj concluded.
New classrooms renovate the enthusiasm of the students
Music fuels student’s souls in Tripoli
Taekwondo at renovated Kikla Sports Center
UNDP’s SFL rehabilitated 117 schools in the 13 municipalities of Greater Tripoli, Bani Walid, Benghazi, Ubari, Sebha, Tawergha and Kikla.
Reducing inequity, ensuring quality healthcare for all in Libya
One of the priorities identified by many municipalities during the need assessments and community consultations was access to medical services. Many healthcare institutions were damaged or looted during the crisis. The SFL responded to that need by renovating hospitals and clinics and supplying them with medical equipment.
The SFL renovated 22 health infrastructures including 12 hospitals, nine clinics and one medical storage across the country (as of 10 May 2021). It also delivered equipment consisting of 28 ambulances and other materials for laboratories.
In times of coronavirus pandemic, UNDP’s SFL provided various medical equipment to support the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic in collaboration with WHO (World health Organization) and the Libyan Ministry of Health including five testing machines, 22 ventilators and 15,000 testing kits. It is also renovating three medical institutions creating isolation wards that enable them to attend to Covid-19 affected patients.
When women do better, the whole society does better
The SFL works with municipalities to ensure basic services are delivered to all women and men, boys and girls including vulnerable groups, migrants, and refugees, thus contributing to reducing gender inequality. Women’s participation in public life and socio-economic activities is an added value that enhance social cohesion at community level.
Dr. Rajaa Abdullah Abu Khurais, Head of the Dermatology Clinic at Sirt Polyclinic: "Because the building was severely damaged by the conflict, I had to receive patients at my house. When the number increased, and it became impossible to receive them there."
After SFL renovated the Polyclinic, Dr. Khurais has been attending to patients there again. "Every day, we learn new things and gain experience as we are receiving more patients," she added.
The Dermatology Clinic in Sirt fully operational
The Women’s Center in Ubari is one of the institutions that helps women to acquire skills that will increase their chances to get decent jobs. The SFL renovated the Center and provided equipment for training.
August 2018, Ubari (Libya). Ms Zahra Bechir is sewing at Ubari Women’s Centre.
"Thanks to the equipment in the Ubari Women’s Centre, I am now learning to sew together with other women from my city," said Zahra. “I think I am good at it and I may make a living out of it," she added.
Local communities take their destiny into their hands
With SFL support, municipalities conducted needs assessment and set priorities for recovery and stabilization. They also went through several training sessions aimed at defining local development plans to sustainably manage their priorities. Kikla Municipality was the first municipality to finalize a five-year local development plan (2020-2024) through an inclusive approach that would help local authorities to better manage resources for optimal results. Following the experience in Kikla, the Facility is supporting Bani Walid, Derna and Ghat municipalities to define their five-year development plans.
Local development in Kikla
Communicating with people on how to achieve sustainability is of paramount importance. Communication Officers from municipalities underwent several training sessions aimed at providing the necessary skills to improve information exchange between the local authorities and the community.
February 2020, Tunis (Tunisia). Media Officers from municipalities attend a training session on strategic communication at UNDP Libya office.
The communication officers learned about social media strategies, human interest stories, and media relations. They gained knowledge on how to better communicate with their communities about provision of basic public services and came up with a communication strategy to be implemented in their municipalities.
The way forward
Overcoming all the challenges in a country that experienced a serious crisis like Libya requires time and coordinated effort. The SFL played its role since 2016 and contributed to enhance stability in cities across the country. Local authorities have improved quality of basic services they are delivering to their people. Peace structures and local partners participated in reducing and managing local conflicts. The way is still long before achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development. Joint efforts from all actors, national and international, will allow the people of Libya to enjoy dividends of peace they have waited for a long time.