Conflict and climate change creating food crisis in Libya, Red Cross warns

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Conflict and climate change creating food crisis in Libya, Red Cross warns
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The conflict in Libya has left the country extremely vulnerable to food shortages caused by climate change, the Red Cross has warned.

In Awiniya village, southwest of Tripoli, a region where agriculture is the main source of income, ongoing violence has forced many local farmers to abandon their homes to seek safety, the charity says.

After years of displacement, some of the farmers have returned to the area to find their lands ruined by drought and vital infrastructure damaged.

“I can do nothing, I lost everything and had to start again from zero,” said Ali, a returnee farmer from Awiniya.

“I started planting trees again as if I was in my first year of farming, but with three consecutive years of drought, the trees didn`t grow and blossom due to the severe weather.”

The difficult terrain of this mountain village makes it unviable to dig wells and the only water tank, which was used for emergencies during dry seasons, was destroyed during the fighting Awiniya witnessed after the 2011 Arab Spring.

Libya is disproportionately impacted by climate change and is classified among the countries as being less prepared for climate hazards.

Conflict has left the country vulnerable to climate variability because of low adaptive capacity, which is likely to increase the impacts of natural hazards on agricultural production.

The limited renewable water resources, coupled with drought and poor soil, severely limit production. This has forced the country to import about 75 per cent of food required to meet local needs, according to the World Bank.

The repercussions are already being felt in the local markets.

“More resources should be invested urgently in arable lands to mitigate the impact. We can see the shock in olive oil prices, for instance, that tripled over the last two years due to reduced production impacted by [decreasing] rainfall,” said Dr Jalal Al-Qadi, from Misrata Agriculture Research Center.

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