Nascent and Proactive Libyan CSOs Emerge from the Vacuum
Over 40 years after Muammar Gaddafi took power in Libya in 1969, Libyan civil society is just beginning to bloom after years lying dormant.
Unfortunately, Gaddafi’s rule reversed years of permissiveness that had allowed the first women’s organization in the country to be established in 1908 and a number of service, scouting, sports, and trade unions to be established during the 1940s British rule and after independence.
Civil society was viewed with suspicion, and members could be punished with the death penalty for engaging in political activities or activities that caused the disintegration of Libyan society. The few organizations that met the demands of 2001’s Law 19, requiring at least 50 members, a headquarters, and approval from the General People’s Committee for fund-raising, often had to rely on funding from private businesses that exploited CSOs as investment and tax havens, or were pressured to work under the umbrella of charity organizations headed by Gaddafi’s associates.
Most organizations today were formed in 2011 and are unclear on their registration status, thanks to the lack of association laws or specialized ministry in the country today.
Though these new organizations have a long way to go towards building a relationship with the government and the public, setting visions and strategies, and increasing their organizational knowledge, civil society played a big role in educating and encouraging fellow citizens to register and vote in the July 2012 elections for the General National Congress.
64% provide services covering all parts of the country, while 33% have intervention at the level of surrounding city/ town only,
13% cover urban areas only, 3% rural only, and 85% both urban and rural areas
Most Libyan CSOs were founded in 2011 and are registered, though they are confused about their status because lack of laws
78% are unsure what their operational strategy is and who wrote it
85% of organizations are funded with membership fees
65% did not have an annual budget.
Most organizations surveyed have a general assembly with an average of 71 members
Few have permanent staff
Collaboration with local community
Legal knowledge and advocacy
Project management skills (report-writing, financial tracking, monitoring and evaluation)
90% claim to have relationships with other CSOS,
30% with international organizations
23% with other Arab organizations
15% with the government
Preparing Libya for a Constitutional Future
20 March 2013
Foundation for the Future representatives traveled this March to Libya to prepare our seed grantees for their final submission to FFF’s financial department as well as begin preparing CSOs and activists for their participation in Libya’s constitution-writing process
. Though Libya’s new seed grant awardees had been accepted by the Foundation based on their concept notes, much work was left to hone in on specific project goals and plan for sustainability.
Next, the Foundation held a round table with representatives of Libyan Islamic and Liberal coalitions
, the International Libyan Women’s committee, CSOs at a national and local level
, and government and UN officials to discuss women’s participation in the constitution-writing process. Though women participated in recent elections, as candidates and voters, most were confused about the electoral process and were unable to answer exactly why they had chosen one candidate over another. Therefore, the Foundation for the Future committed itself to a national awareness campaign to prepare women for upcoming political activities, particularly in terms of advocating for their rights, analyzing the differences between candidates, and keeping track of the next steps in the constitution-writing process. Observers do not expect Congress to decide on the exact process of appointing
or electing a constitutional assembly and writing a constitution until late this year, so the Foundation will have plenty of time to hold training and awareness-raising activities.
Libya Update: FFF Trains a New League of CSO Professionals in Libya
December 6th, 2012
This fall, the Foundation has been implementing its strategic plan to shape developments on the ground with its newly-established Libya office, focusing its efforts on training over 45 CSO representatives, activists, and women parliamentarians in communication skills and project management. In Libya, nascent NGOs are eager to begin their work but often lack the skills and infrastructure to make their dreams a reality.
In late September, the Foundation organized a capacity-building workshop for 20 CSO representatives from around the country. The training included information on conducting community-needs assessment surveys and feasibility studies, setting organizational mission and vision statements, and developing project management skills such as distributing tasks and budgeting
. Though the participants all successfully completed 35 hours of training and were happy with the lessons they learned, all felt they needed further trainings to address monitoring and evaluation techniques as well as proposal-writing to properly run their organizations.
After launching a call for nascent Libyan NGOs to submit concept notes for its seed grants program, the Foundation realized that few of its applicants were familiar with the formal proposal-writing process.
In keeping with its role as partner and mentor rather than simply a funder, the Foundation decided to invite all 17 applicants to a 4-day training session on the basics of proposal writing. 15 CSOs from all over Libya attended the training in Tripoli and learned how to solidify their vision and mission in proposals submitted in topics like democracy, human rights, constitution-writing, women, and youth.
The Foundation is also hosting a Facebook page for the alumni of both of its capacity-building trainings, to maintain the strong relationships built with each of our capacity-building graduates and to create an interactive online discussion for alumni to share experiences, information and lessons learned in addition. This step is one of the many the Foundation is taking to fulfill its 2012 national strategy and create a vibrant national network of Libyan CSOs.
Later that month, the Foundation gathered representatives from the Libyan government, CSOs, activists, and media in a round table entitled, “Civil Society and the FFF 2013 Plan of Action.” The roundtable was aimed at better understanding the needs, obstacles, and challenges facing Libyan CSOs as well as opening a direct channel of communications between them and Libyan officials
. CSO representatives pointed out that there was little communication or networking between various organizations at a national level, leading to a duplication of activities and a difficulty in sharing the best professional management skills. The representatives also indicated a lack of collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s Department of Civil Society, which hosts an official database that is not inclusive of all Libyan organizations. The representatives questioned this outdated database and questioned the Ministry’s seemingly-arbitrary policy of interacting with some CSOs and not others. Not only were the head of the Ministry of Culture’s Department of Civil Society, MPs, and the assistant to the head of the Director of Administration at the National Libyan Congress taking note of the CSOs concerns, Foundation representatives were also using this new information to formulate the key trainings and capacity-building programs that should be included in its 2013 Action Plan
To address the findings of the Foundation’s March 2011 field mission that highlighted CSOs difficulty in reaching Tunisian women, the Foundation organized a training in the northeastern city of Sousse from October 13th
. 25 CSOs working for women’s rights and empowerment from Sfax, Cap-Bon, and Sahel were trained on gender-sensitive communication techniques to best reach rural and suburban female beneficiaries.
Once Libya’s new parliament has been solidified, the Foundation will do its part for the future success of Libyan democracy by holding a multi-day session for female parliamentarians. The trainings will educate the representatives on the legislative process and relative international treaties as wells as leadership, communication, and coalition-building skills. This will provide the representatives with the tools to fight for accountability and women’s rights when formulating legislation for the newly formed-parliament.
In 2013, the Foundation’s team in Libya will be launching the results of its CSO mapping project and announcing the awardees from its call for seed grant proposals in Libya
. For news about these exciting events and other Foundation-hosted activities in Libya, please visit our Facebook page.
22 Libyan Journalists Benefit from CMN and the Foundation’s Professional Trainings
July 23, 2012
In spite of the violent outbursts that still plague Libya, Libyan media professionals must not waste time waiting for an end to the hostilities before beginning to build a transparent, independent media network in the country. The Foundation for the Future recognizes this fact and in July 2012, held 12 days of training for 22 journalists in the Libyan capital of Tripoli
. During the workshops, 6 women and 16 men, each from different radio, television, and newspaper outlets sharpened their writing and presentation skills. Specifically, the four trainers covered topics including professional ethics, writing for news and reports, interviewing and field reporting techniques, as well as applicable media laws that strengthen legal protection for Libyan journalists. Participants were a select group, chosen from the 65 applications submitted after the Foundation’s call to local CSOs and media outlets.
Though they represented several different areas of the country, including Tripoli, Sert, Ajdabia, and Benghazi, evaluations suggest the need for repeat workshops to be held in other cities like Benghazi.
Trainers found participants eager to learn and improve their skills to best represent Libya. One participant emphasized the importance of meeting the world’s professional expectations for journalists and a female participant highlighted how her newly honed skills in the professional delivery of stories could change the popular perception of women in the media.
The training represents an exciting partnership between the Foundation for the Future and Jordanian-based Community Media Network (CMN). Since 2000, CMN has aimed to promote independent journalism in the Arab region and has held multiple training sessions. The organization also runs the Al-Balad radio station and AmmanNet website. The Foundation contracted CMN to organize the training in Tripoli after receiving and evaluating several proposals.
Attendees were pleased with this choice and found CMN’s experience in creating an independent media apparatus in Jordan particularly valuable. In the weeks following the training, CMN will create a plan to keep alumni of the program in contact with one another using social media tools. This will allow the journalists to continue sharing their knowledge and experiences as well as cooperate to create a new, independent Libyan media apparatus.
Election Monitoring Workshop in Preparation for the Upcoming Election in Libya
As elections in Libya are just around the corner, the Foundation worked with its brand-new office in Libya to provide a two-day training to Libyans on election monitoring on May 24-25, 2012. Indeed, on the 19th of June, for the first time in 42 years, Libyans will elect a constituent assembly, or the National Public Conference, which will be tasked with writing a new constitution and choosing a government.
During its recent missions to Libya, the Foundation recognized a strong need to raise awareness about the coming election and decided to remedy this by organizing trainings to enhance participant’s knowledge of the electoral process and their role in monitoring the elections. With this initiative, FFF aims to ensure that Libyans will have the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights and participate in building a new Libya.
The Foundation selected 25 Libyan participants from civil society organizations, ministries, and independent activists to register at the Higher National Election Council as official monitors
. These certified monitors can also assist in the monitoring of others countries’ elections. Participants were taught about common standards for election monitoring and fraud detection and committed themselves eagerly to the cause. As a result of this meeting, the Foundation is glad to announce the building of a new network between different civil society organizations in Tripoli.
Following the success of training, representatives from the Higher National Election Council asked to collaborate with the Foundation and help them to spread knowledge to other Council’s members
. The Foundation responded to this request by organizing two election- monitoring trainings on June 11- 12, 2012 and a third training on June 14-15, 2012 in Tubroq.
The Foundation remains committed to supporting fair election processes, seeing this as the key tool in ensuring political accountability and the promoting democracy.
FFF Proceeds With Its Libya Operations
April 12, 2012
Following up on the exploratory mission to Libya in November 2011
, the Foundation for the Future has sent its Grant Officer for North Africa, as well as its Program Coordinator, to assess needs and challenges related to the opening of an FFF office in Tripoli.
While doing so, our team took the time to meet again with representatives of the burgeoning civil society and brought updated insights on the current state of civil society in Libya.
They noted, for instance, that CSO representatives have high expectations regarding the pending elections for a new government and for the re-building of a “new Libya” in general. They were further impressed by the effort put by international NGOs to rebuild the country, as well as by the willingness of most emerging Libyan CSOs to succeed in their mission.
Our staff also had fruitful discussions with activists who put an emphasis on the importance for Libyan CSOs to clearly establish their missions and the role awareness campaigns and trainings will play in pursuing goals. They reckoned it is therefore crucial for Libyan CSOs to share ideas and knowledge through exchange programs with international NGO. Others activists expressed the need to develop a step by step approach for a better future of civil society in Libya and invited international NGOs to slow down with the implementation process of projects, recalling thereby that Libya just got out of a revolution. Finally, it was noted that women remain extremely involved and even willing to take part in the next election monitoring. During an interview, a woman activist even commented on her wish to see a woman elected as president in the future.
The foundation remains committed to developing projects on women empowerment and youth entrepreneurship and felt the demand for such projects was still extremely high. However, it is believed that it remains crucial to take the political situation into consideration for the next steps in Libya and to involve all actors to ensure the spreading and sharing of knowledge across Libya.“There is a huge potential in Libya” said Tamer Zumot, and the Foundation will contribute to the core values of democracy and human rights. Log online to access our exclusive interviews with Libyan activist Nadine Nasrat and journalist Fatma Ghandhourز
To watch the interviews, click here!