Mr Abdo Mohammed Ahmad is serving a customer in his coffee shop in Ubari. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Ali Alshaarif

“The solar lights in the streets are making a difference in people’s lives and in our small businesses since we can keep our shops open after sunset and people are thrilled to keep enjoying life after the sun sets,” said Abdo Mohammed Ahmad, a 26-year-old young man who runs a cafe in Ubari city center.

During the past three years, he has prepared hot and cold drinks for his customers.

''Until recently, most of the shops had to close after sunset as the city was in the dark. Movements of people were limited at night, not because of the COVID-19 restrictions but because they did not feel secure,'' explained Abdo.

 ''Criminal acts were taking place in the dark,'' stated one customer.  ''People were afraid to go out, children could not play outside their compound,'' he added.

''Women could hardly move around to meet the daily needs of their families after sunset,'' declared Ms. Um El Eid Ibrahim, member of the Ubari Municipal Council.

Abdo is preparing an order in the kitchen. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Ali Alshaarif

Lighted streets, more business opportunities 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 lightened by street lights powered by solar energy.

''I am working more comfortably now,'' commented Abdo. ''Street lighting is motivating people to move around, and this is increasing the number of people coming here as the shop closes later now. The business is going to be more profitable, '' he added.

''Many shops around the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science building were closed before. After installation of these lights, I decided to rent some shops and start a new business, '' declared Mr. Omar Mawloud, a local entrepreneur.

Several people in Ubari affirmed that they think that this project can spark a great number of opportunities.  ''This action is restoring Ubari’s old splendor. People spread the word and now, neighboring municipalities are asking for the same project, '' stated Omar Mawloud. ''Some Libyans comment that they do not want Libya like Dubai as an example of urban and economic development, but they want it like Ubari after solar energy has illuminated its sky,'' he added.

Shops can now work until late at night in Ubari. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Ali Alshaarif

Led by national and municipal Libyan institutions, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from 13 international partners and the Government of Libya, the Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) provides quick rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and delivers equipment to help local authorities across the country to improve basic services for the people.

Providing such basic, vital services such as ensuring constant and cost-effective access to electricity is key for local authorities not only to meet the needs of people, but also provide more opportunities ahead with greater security while mitigating the impact of climate change.

More stability and equal opportunities for all in the city!

The SFL is installing a 11 km solar street lighting system at the entrance of the city and other streets within the city. The new project is expected to be finalized by the end of 2020. Ubari residents already have the feeling that it is enhancing stability in their city. ''This initiative is playing a positive role not only in showing the beautiful side of the city, but also adding stability and improving peaceful coexistence through enhanced security in the streets, '' said Ms. Um El Eid.

Ms Um El Eid, member of Ubari Municipal Council, in her office. ©UNDP Libya/Ali Alshaarif

''Now, it is easy for women who are living near the newly lit streets to move around and do shopping at night without fear. We are grateful to all who are helping us to have projects that have a direct impact on people and meet their most urgent needs,'' she concluded.

''I hope all the users will keep this equipment in good condition. Business opportunities are definitely going to increase as the situation will be more stable now. I would like to thank all the partners who contributed to this achievement,'' Abdo concluded.

The SFL encourages the return of IDPs to Ubari and local peace through improvements to public services and infrastructure that all community groups have equal access to, especially women, youth and other marginalized groups.

It has delivered sets of equipment to Ubari Municipality such as medical equipment, two ambulances, and two generators to the health sector, and a garbage truck. It has also rehabilitated three schools, the General Hospital, the public market, the Women Center, the library and cafeteria at Ubari University and delivered prefabricated classrooms. It has recently launched the extension of the Faculty of Law at Ubari University by starting the construction of a new National Legal Training Center.

UNDP Libya Resident Representative Gerardo Noto stated “Ubari has become a model in terms of sustainable development and stabilization for social cohesion in post-conflict South of Libya. We, along with International, National and Local partners, will continue providing support to consolidate peace and reconciliation all around the country for benefit of all.”

The façade of Abdo’s shop at night in Ubari. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/Ali Alshaarif
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