Libya: Blueprint Initiative – Social Protection Systems for Children – Global Findings Report, March 2022 [EN/AR] – Libya
Social protection can ensure children’s access to an adequate standard of living, health, education and care, and provides a safety net against the effects of childhood poverty and deprivation that have ramifications that can last a lifetime. The role of social protection is particularly critical in crisis-affected and fragile contexts like Libya, where a decade of protracted conflict and instability has limited people’s access to public services and livelihoods. Despite the emphasis placed on this subject, worldwide, millions of children are not covered by social protection systems, with significant disparities depending on the region. In 2019, only 16% of children in Africa received social protection benefits.
This study, conducted by UNICEF and UNHCR, in partnership with REACH, examines the social assistance system for children in Libya. As the country moves from a humanitarian crisis to stabilization and recovery, there is growing interest in understanding the legal and administrative framework that underpins social protection, as well as how programs targeting population groups vulnerable, including children, work in practice. In connection with these questions, the Libyan authorities already validated in October 2021 a roadmap for the development of a national social protection policy.
The research is based on an extensive literature review, secondary data review as well as primary data collection that took place between August and December 2021. This included 37 key informant interviews (KIIs) with providers from the implementing agencies studied (Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Solidarity Fund) and academics, 53 KII with social workers, 202 individual interviews (II) with Libyan service users and 30 KII with community representatives migrants and refugees. The methodology helps to understand the legal framework that underpins social protection in the country, as well as how the registration process works in practice for various population groups. The research also focuses on bottlenecks and barriers faced by applicants when trying to access social assistance programs.
Legal and administrative framework
Libya is a signatory to several international and regional treaties relating to social protection, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Rights Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. These treaties have been incorporated into the Libyan Constitutional Declaration, which recognizes the right to social protection for all Libyan citizens, the Social Security Law (No. 13) of 1980, which emphasizes the right to security social status of Libyan and non-Libyan residents. , and the Social Solidarity Act (No. 20) of 1998 which establishes a number of social assistance schemes.
However, the fundamental principle of non-discrimination in international treaties is rarely applied in the national legal framework or applied in practice. Indeed, the social assistance schemes are only open to Libyan citizens, with the exception of the allowance for the wife and children which targets all Libyan children and children of Libyan mothers and non-Libyan fathers. , although findings indicate that this is still not enforced. These gaps in coverage are said to be the result of difficulties in law enforcement and unclear collaboration strategies between the institutions responsible for implementing social assistance programs, namely the MoSA and the SSoF.
Social protection programs in practice
MoSA and SSolF run several social assistance programs targeting vulnerable population groups, including basic assistance, emergency assistance, and subsidy for women and children. Mass media, including social and broadcast media, are used by both implementing agencies to promote awareness and understanding of their programs among target populations. Although these means of raising awareness seem effective for the Wife and Children grant, the majority of recipients of basic assistance and those of emergency assistance declared having heard of the two programs through their personal networks and in person. However, the overall findings show that the current reach is generally considered satisfactory by service providers and service users. Only key informants (KIs) at the national level said they perceive that current awareness is low and uneven across the country, particularly in the South, where people are less aware of the different services and programs they could benefit from.
The results of this study also suggest that the application process seems to be much easier for the scholarship for women and children than for the other two programs. Indeed, a considerable part of the Libyan families interviewed benefiting from this grant were automatically enrolled in the program, when it was reactivated, through the former head of household allowance. Those who did not qualify for the latter stipend, registered with MoSA municipal offices by providing identification, including a National Identification Number (NIN). Children of Libyan mothers and non-Libyan fathers must be registered in the database of foreigners of the Civil Status Authority (ARC). For Basic Assistance and Emergency Assistance, applicants register with the municipal offices of the SSoF by providing several documents, including the NIN, family booklet or family status certificate, proof of residence and proof of not already benefiting from benefits or pensions provided by the Social Security Fund (SSecF).
The results indicate a general lack of clear and standardized information management systems in offices and registration locations, which complicates and tends to delay verification processes. This also seems to be the case for complaints mechanisms, which do not always exist in all registrars.
Role and capacity of social workers
The findings of this evaluation indicate that social workers can play a central role in the implementation and management of social assistance programs. In terms of awareness, although surveyed Libyan service users generally reported perceiving that social workers play no meaningful role or are unaware of the role of social workers, a considerable minority of service users and social workers interviewed emphasized being aware of several tasks. and the responsibilities assumed by social workers. This includes the organization of seminars and workshops by social workers and in-person door-to-door campaigns. Social workers would also inform legal guardians and parents in schools and care centers about social protection programs and the registration process.
Additionally, the results suggest that the role of social workers is quite prevalent during the registration process, when they receive applicants, conduct a social assessment of their needs, and refer them to the program department and the service. appropriate registration. Nevertheless, their role seems less known and limited for the scholarship for women and children.
However, key informants from service providers pointed to a lack of training or qualified staff and social workers, apparently due to a lack of funding. In particular, it was reported that computer illiteracy was widespread in some offices, and that this in turn resulted in poor management of the digital database to store beneficiary information. In addition, some offices lack sufficient staff to support candidates throughout the registration process. This was most often reported for Sebha.
Barriers and Bottlenecks Encountered by Applicants The results of this study indicate that displaced children, children of Libyan mothers and non-Libyan fathers, children born out of wedlock, and persons with disabilities are likely to encounter more barriers to access social protection schemes. This seems to be mainly due to a lack of documentation, and in particular of a NIN. Other commonly reported barriers to enrolling or receiving benefits were related to the liquidity crisis in the country and coordination issues between government institutions that lead to delays in grant disbursement. These challenges appear to be more acute in the South where, generally, fewer financial and human resources are allocated to implementing agencies, and where a considerable minority of the population has undetermined legal status (ULS). This group, which often includes migrant and refugee communities, who depend on the support of their host community, is usually excluded from formal social assistance programs due to a lack of NIN.
Based on the findings of the study, policy recommendations were developed jointly with UNICEF and UNHCR, and commissioned by MoSA and SSoF. First, it is recommended that implementing agencies respect Libya’s commitments under international law, by removing all regulatory, physical and attitudinal barriers to accessing social protection programs for children with disabilities, children of ULS and children born out of wedlock. Furthermore, the MoSA and the SSoF are encouraged to strengthen their efforts to enforce national laws that facilitate the inclusion of non-Libyan children in the social protection system, including through the issuance of implementing regulations.
Second, to improve the accessibility of social protection schemes, both agencies are also advised to intensify their efforts to promote awareness and understanding of the schemes, including through mass media campaigns and targeted outreach. . At the same time, specific recommendations regarding the above-mentioned groups who are more likely to face obstacles in accessing social protection systems include: the creation of mobile teams of social workers, allowing rapid obtaining of civil status documents as well as delays for displaced families, the holding of frequent meetings of the SSolF medical commissions for people with disabilities and capacity building for staff.
Third, the MoSA and SSoF are encouraged to put in place clear grievance mechanisms that would include multiple channels for receiving complaints to ensure widespread access. It is also recommended to train staff and allow online procedures, as well as to create operational hotlines.
Finally, in the long term, both agencies are called upon to create effective digital and integrated information management systems. This is especially recommended for the SSoF to reduce staff burden, facilitate data sharing between offices, and enable rapid transfer of funds to beneficiaries. It is also suggested to create common registers of beneficiaries in all the implementing institutions in order to increase the responsiveness and inclusiveness of the programs.