Civil Initiatives Libya (CIL) is a project funded by the European Union and implemented by ACTED since 2012. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of emerging civil society organisations (CSOs) and local actors, in the fields of post-conflict rehabilitation, local development planning and community stabilization. We work in over 15 municipalities in the East, West and South of Libya.
In 2012, four resource centres were opened in Tripoli-Zawia, Benghazi, Misrata and Sabha to provide Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with facilities and technical assistance. CIL also initiated cooperation with local authorities to contribute to the establishment of effective governance. Another key development of CIL is the emergence of a number of CSOs which better understand the system of international cooperation and are now more able to access available funding. In addition, a few CSOs are now strong enough to lobby the government and get funding from the national budget. Compared to other projects, CIL has established a strong presence in the territories due to its ability to communicate on a daily basis with local stakeholders. Therefore, the orientation toward local economic development is a natural consequence of CIL ’s geographic coverage throughout the country.
Approximately 200 CSOs operate in the regions where the Resource Centers (RC) are implanted (Benghazi, Tripoli-Zawia, Misrata and Sabha). CSO’s have been able to use the basic services provided by the centres, namely IT material, access to internet, office space, training rooms to conduct their own activities and outreach capacity. Some of these organisations have been directly involved in the management of the RC activities. In addition, CSOs can access funds and training through the small grants scheme. Subsequently, these organisations have gained experience in project management, learned reporting procedures and gained the necessary skills to apply to international funding, even beyond the lifetime of this project.
Youth participation: As almost half of the Libyan population is under 25, youth-related issues were addressed under an independent project led by ACTED. This action promoted the participation of youth in the decision-making process by assisting youth-led organisations, and also through partnerships with institutions concerned with this issue (universities and student unions). Youth participation was also addressed by developing specific activities and networking in the fields of sports and gender, for example, for youth members of CSOs.
Environmental issues: Many CSOs are concerned with the protection of the environment, gathering data and information on the current situation, organizing actions with their own network of volunteers and making recommendations to help institutions address public issues. There is strong activity in this field, and in addition to organisational and operational support, specific technical assistance − involving training but also foreign exchanges – have been greatly beneficial for these organisations. They have provided a second axis of technical cooperation between institutions and the civil society.
Gender equality: This theme remains a central issue for CIL and has been addressed through the numerous women’s organisations using CIL facilities and cooperating with CIL. The role of women in local governance and local socio-economic development has been systematically mentioned in all communication and activities of the project. Specific training and networking activities have been organised for women organisations. In fact, CIL took part in administering an art exhibition called “Stop Violence Against Women” to raise awareness on issues surrounding gender-based violence.
Our resource centres proved strategic as they gathered many factions of the community under one roof. Our aim to create a close-knit network among CSO’s and international organisations was successful. CIL’s resource centres hosted events, workshops and training and cultivated a culture of knowledge-sharing. CSO’s working under the CIL network also encouraged women and youth empowerment and worked with international actors. One of our workshops included the British Council Springboard initiative, which aims to develop the capacities of women of all backgrounds. The initiative encourages women to define their own ideas and maintain a positive vision of their personal and professional lives, as individuals or as organisations. Our resource centre in Benghazi hosted the ‘Self-Development for Women’ workshop and awarded certificates to women after the successful completion of the course.
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