Gripped since 2011 by a civil war, Libya’s population is suffering a major humanitarian crisis. This includes poverty, insecurity, displacement, shortages of food and cash in banks, and frequent power cuts.
According to the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview, 897,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. 317,000 of those need food assistance.
Even before conflict erupted, 80 percent of the population’s food requirements were imported, as the harsh natural environment severely limits agricultural production.
At that time Libya – one of the world’s most prolific oil-producing nations – maintained large trade surpluses. Although oil wealth did not percolate down to ordinary citizens, until 2011 the costs families incurred for food were offset to some extent by a welfare state that offered free education and healthcare.
The World Food Programme (WFP)’s Libya office was reopened in 2014. The organization works to support the review and rehabilitation of pre-crisis social protection systems. Along with regular and emergency food distributions throughout the country, ongoing interventions include school feeding; cash transfers linked to social safety nets and government-led subsidy programmes; and food-for-training for resilience-building and the empowerment of youth and women.
In addition to partnering with international organizations and working in tandem with the Libyan Government, WFP provides food assistance throughout Libya primarily through seven local cooperating partners. WFP continues to explore options to expand its operational partnership base in order to ensure that as the situation changes, it can send food to hard-to-reach conflict-affected areas. WFP’s partners work closely with local crisis committees, which represent communities and provide WFP with the information needed to assess where assistance is most urgently needed.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Libya
WFP assists food-insecure and vulnerable people including crisis-affected internally displaced people, returnees, non-displaced populations, refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants living in urban settings. WFP provides regular food assistance across the country as well as emergency food assistance through the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM). WFP is currently finalising plans to begin providing electronic commodity voucher assistance to an initial group of 10,000 beneficiaries in the northwest of the country.
Resilience and livelihoods
Working with local partners, WFP identifies vulnerable people for vocational training courses. These provide skills training related to the needs of local businesses as well as the expressed interests of participants. The initiative ensures that WFP programmes support stabilization and integrate the humanitarian-development-peace nexus through the empowerment of women and youth, enabling people to rebuild self-reliant, resilient communities.
Humanitarian coordination and core common services
WFP leads the Food Security Sector, the Logistics Sector and the Emergency Telecommunications Sector as well as managing the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). In 2019, the operation also opened the UN Hub in Benghazi.
WFP works with the Libyan Ministry of Education to provide daily school meals to 18,000 children in the south of the country. This number is expected to increase to 40,000 during 2020. WFP has also provided training for school feeding focal points and during the summer of 2019 ran, in tandem with the Ministry of Education and the local communities, the Nutrition Summer Camp for 600 children in Tripoli, aiming to educate children and parents on nutrition and health. The operation ultimately plans to hand over a national school feeding strategy to the Government.
Vulnerability Assessment & Mapping
WFP has taken significant steps in the fields of data collection and monitoring of market trends. This includes Vulnerability Analysis Mapping bulletins shared with the humanitarian and development community, and the WFP Migration Pulse, which presents the findings of data collection using innovative web surveys among migrants and refugees in Libya. In addition to this, WFP continues to undertake assessments in order to streamline projects and programme focuses based on actual needs.
Migration/Strategy & Support
WFP is continuing the dialogue on regional migration and support for the development of a regional migration strategy. The strategy, a work in progress, is an outcome of the various protection and access issues faced by migrants and is based on ongoing evidence from various interventions and innovative data collection activities. WFP also provides food to migrants in urban settings through a project run in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).