E-Cards return purchasing power to Libya’s displaced

For families across Libya, the ongoing conflict has thrown a shroud over day-to-day life, making economic survival an increasing struggle. With the country’s economy fixed in a downward spiral, thousands of families are unable to access enough money to meet their basic daily needs. ACTED is targeting those with the least coping-capacity, i.e. IDPs, host community members and low-income families for multi-purpose cash assistance which gives them the freedom to prioritize their daily purchases using prepaid debit cards.

Access to foreign currency at the official exchange rate has been extremely limited, creating a parallel-market war economy that is cannibalizing the formal sector and driving up the prices of basic commodities
The price of bread in Libya has increased by five times since 2014

The challenges of displacement

Following the commencement of hostilities in 2014, hundreds of thousands of Libya’s were forced to flee their homes. The financial burden which each family faced was enormous, especially given how so many were cut off from their prior livelihoods. They soon faced high-rents amidst increasing competition for shelter, with many turning to unsuitable or unsafe housing. With a limited budget,  many vulnerable families live in incomplete houses ridden with humidity, which are often dangerous to live in. Houses donated by well-meaning individuals or charities often lack paint, doors or windows and thus can present protection risks to those who reside within.

ACTED introduces E-Cards

To meet the immediate needs of internally displaced Libyans, ACTED is innovating its unconditional multipurpose cash assistance programme with the introduction of prepaid debit cards which can be used to purchase essential items at over 900 points of sale across Libya. With the E-Card programme, beneficiaries now have immediate access to cash in a country where bank facilities remain limited.

Beneficiaries of the E-Card scheme used the cash primarily for rental payments and to improve the food security of their households.

Case Study: Salem

Until the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, Salem lived in Tawergha with his wife and three daughters. After leaving his state employment five years ago, Salem took to working as a craftsman to support his family. Salem’s health began to deteriorate and he was soon no longer able to provide his family with the basics and they had to ask for help from charities. While they struggled to pay for Salem’s medications, the civil war began and the family were displaced to a camp in Benghazi. Before long they managed to find a private house to live in, however covering the rent was unsustainable, and they were forced into a donated house, which was heavily damaged and lacked any kind of furnishings.

As a beneficiary of ACTED’s E-Card programming, Salem could afford the medications needed to treat his liver fibrosis, freeing up the household’s limited financial resources to be spent on other needs, rather than turning to negative-coping strategies.


Case Study: Halima

Halima lives in Benghazi with her husband and three daughters. Two of her daughters study at the university while the third takes care of her and cannot leave the house to go for work. While not living in displacement, the family house is in an urgent state of disrepair and Halima simply cannot afford to renovate (despite the safety risks) as she receives only the social security salary of 450 LYD (322 $USD per month).

Upon being brought into the ACTED E-Card project, Halima has spent the cash on food, basic household items and crucially, ensuring her daughters could continue their studies by paying for transport to and from the university.

This project was made possible through the support of Global Affairs Canada - Government of Canada