Food Security Situation in Libya: The crisis in Ukraine has led to global price increases for basic commodities. In Libya, the national cost of the food basket in November 2022 was 822 LYD, which represents an increase by 18% since pre-conflict levels. Libya is heavily dependent (88%) on imports from Russia and Ukraine for its cereal needs, and the Libyan compensation system for necessities has been falling since 2011, causing tensions with producers, affecting their activities, and making prices sensitive to economic fluctuations. The purchasing power of vulnerable households affected their ability to afford nutritious foods and food staples, raising concerns about the overall food security situation, and leading them to adopt negative coping strategies.
WFP estimates that over 324,000 individuals, including 174,000 vulnerable Libyans and 150,000 vulnerable non-Libyans, remain in need of food assistance in Libya.
Two years after the signing of the UN-brokered Ceasefire Agreement in October 2020 between the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army, Libya has etched a path towards stability. The number of displaced persons returning to their areas of origin increased steadily from some 648,000 at the end of 2021 to 696,000 individuals by August 2022, most of whom returned due to improvements in the security situation.
However, at the start of 2022, due to the postponement of the presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for 24 December 2021, heightened concerns arose regarding a potential resumption or escalation of hostilities and armed clashes between rival political opponents. Localized clashes between armed groups, particularly in the western region, continued; the most serious of which took place on 27 August 2022 in central Tripoli, resulting in 159 injured and 42 deaths, and four children injured.
Stabilizing food security is a significant challenge, as farmers have limited access to agricultural production inputs and support for animal health care due to years of conflict around main agricultural areas and disruption of agricultural extension services due to instability and increased prices of fertilizers and agricultural tools. More households are abandoning agricultural activities, thus reducing the medium- and long-term availability of food. Supporting household food security among vulnerable populations and supporting their livelihoods must go hand in hand with restoring agricultural services for the longer term.
Russia - Ukraine has had a domino effect well beyond the confines of the conflict zone. Libya is heavily dependent (88%) on imports from the two countries for its cereal needs, and the Libyan compensation system for necessities has been falling since 2011, causing tensions with producers, affecting their activity, and making prices sensitive to economic fluctuations. On top of that, weak economic institutions and poor governance adversely affected the country's capacity to respond to the current food crisis with an adequate policy response. These challenges are particularly acute in Libya, where the consequence of the war is therefore proving to be significant, with grain prices soaring on the international market and supplies becoming increasingly difficult locally. In this framework, according to the WFP Market Bulletin (November 2022), the impact of the Ukraine Crisis continues to play a dramatic role in the increased price of key food items: the national cost of the food basket in November 2022 was 822 LYD, which represents an increase by 18% since pre-conflict levels. The price of cereals such as flour has increased by 19%, bread (+34%), couscous (+76%), and pasta (+50%), while the price of vegetable oil has increased by 36%. The further high food prices consistently compound the availability and accessibility of food in the South due to the Ukraine crisis, which is gradually reducing the purchasing power of the people affecting their ability to afford their basic needs and thus causing the households to adopt negative coping mechanisms.
Based on the Multi-Sectoral Need Assessment 2022, WFP estimates that over 324,000 individuals, including 174,000 vulnerable Libyans and 150,000 vulnerable non-Libyans, are in need of food assistance in Libya. The highest proportional prevalence of people in need of food assistance was reported from people in need of international protection (50%), which was followed by migrants (19%) and IDPs (6%). The Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey conducted by UNICEF in partnership with WFP, Action Against Fund and Libyan authorities in 2022, indicates 7.2 % stunting and 3.8 % wasting among children aged 6-59 months, with the southern region reaching 6.1 %, falling under the Integrated Phase Classification alert for acute malnutrition. The survey estimated 100,800 children aged 6-59 months and 60,000 pregnant and lactating women (PLW) to be acutely malnourished, including 31,800 children likely to be severely malnourished and 70,000 expected to suffer from moderate acute malnutrition. The survey further reported that a prevalence of anaemia among women of reproductive age is another public health concern, especially among PLWs, with a rate exceeding 40 % in four regions.
Role of the Food Security Sector:
The Food Security Sector has three objectives:
- Ensure that crisis-affected vulnerable populations in Libya have access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food.
- Protect livelihoods and promote livelihood-based coping capacities of crisis-affected vulnerable populations.
- Protect agricultural livelihoods and build national and community resilience against current and future food insecurity shocks.
The Food Security Sector in Libya is supported by the global Food Security Cluster, which is co-led by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Food Security Sector in Libya also has around 13 partners containing international and national organizations, that contribute to food security-related activities.
The Humanitarian Country Team in Libya discussed and agreed that the deactivation of the sectors should be formalized through Inter-Agency Steering Committee at the global level, while residual humanitarian needs would continue to be addressed through the transitional structure in 2023. It is intended that the coordination made under the Food Security Sector in Libya will be handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture, the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and/or the Rapid Response Mechanism, after the deactivation of the cluster approach in Libya in January 2023.
The established coordination under the Food Security Sector will be continuously facilitated via the web-based Food Security Forum <https://fscluster.org/libya/overview> during the transitional phase.
The Food Security Forum aims to strengthen and expand its footprint across Libya progressively. In addition to supporting the coordinated direct food assistance, the Forum supports agricultural, livestock and fishery systems, by providing agricultural inputs as well as vocational training, in order to minimize the rate of abandoning agricultural activities, capacitate Libyan populations to produce their food and sell the surplus to generate some income. Linking humanitarian interventions with development and peace-building support, such as creating livelihood opportunities and income-generating initiatives, is critical for the Forum. All activities implemented by the Forum integrate nutrition-sensitive programming, gender-transformative approaches and conflict-sensitive design.
Milestones in 2022:
March 2022: The Food Security Sector in Libya published the dashboard of Libya Food Security Sector - 2021 Year
- April 2022: WFP published its analysis of the Ukraine crisis's impact on food security in Libya
- May 2022: FAO published the FAO Libya achievements in 2021 report
- September 2022: WFP published the Market Update mVAM bulletin (June 2022)
- September 2022: WFP published the Food Security Outcome Monitoring report (August 2022)
- October 2022: REACH published the Wheat Supply Chain assessment report (June 2022)
- October 2022: WFP published its analysis of the Ukraine crisis's impact on food security in Libya
- October 2022: WFP published the Market Update mVAM bulletin (August 2022)
- November 2022: WFP published the Market Update mVAM bulletin (October 2022)
- The Libya Food Security Sector partners assisted 120,000 unique beneficiaries under the Humanitarian Response Plan in 2022.