Involvement in The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

Involvement in The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

Involvement in The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

Meaningful Societies
COVID-19 | The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

October 30, 2020

The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) forms a cooperation between nine partner countries including Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and Norway.  The NPA is a part of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective, also known as Interreg and is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Despite geographical differences, the regional partners share common features such as low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversity, abundant natural resources, and high impact of climate change. This unique combination of features yields joint challenges and opportunities that can best be overcome and realized through transnational cooperation.[1]

As COVID-19 spread throughout Europe in spring 2020, the NPA monitoring committee agreed to support seven projects dedicated to what has become known as the “NPA COVID-19 Response Call”. Each of these projects address one of five themes aimed at understanding the impact of COVID-19 across the NPA region: (A) Clinical aspects, (B) Health and wellbeing, (C) Technology solution, (D) Citizen engagement/community response and (E) Economic impact and (F) Emerging themes.[2]

In collaboration with Baltic Sea Cluster Development Centre, Voluntās Policy Advisory (Voluntās) is currently involved in the “COVID19-Communities Response and Resilience” project targeting themes “Citizen engagement/community response” as well as “The Economic of Health Service Delivery”.

For the Communities Response and Resilience project, Voluntās are working closely with partners from the Regional Council of Kainuu, Finland; University of Oulu, Finland; Rural Area Partnership, Northern Ireland; NHS Western Isles, Scotland; Leitrim County Council, Ireland and British Red Cross, Shetland to examine the impact, resilience, and responses to COVID-19 on a community level in the NPA area.[3]  Collaborating with the Faroese Agricultural Agency has been focused on distributing three different questionnaires across the Faroe Islands. Having now completed the data collection phase, Voluntās will compile a regional report which will ultimately feed into the transnational report comparing findings across six regions.

The “COVID & Economics” project examines economic impacts and responses to COVID-19. It captures innovations and transformations that have taken place as a result of the pandemic, and sets out to create a roadmap for recommendations that will allow for more sustainable and resilient regional/local communities and economies across the NPA. In this project, Voluntās is working with partners from Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and northern Norway in order to gain insight into the effects on COVID-19 on these economies.

 

 

[1] http://www.interreg-npa.eu/about/programme-in-brief/

[2] http://www.interreg-npa.eu/for-applicants/covid-19-call/

[3] http://www.interreg-npa.eu/covid-19/npa-response-group-and-projects

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Supporting UNICEF on the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya

Supporting UNICEF on the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya

Supporting UNICEF on the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya

Meaningful Societies
Case | COVID-19 | Libya

To support effective COVID-19 crisis communication and community outreach by the Libyan Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control, Voluntās Policy Advisory supported UNICEF in the development and implementation of a nationwide survey-based behavioral assessment in Libya. The assessment aimed at capturing a broad and in-depth understanding of the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya, including the impact of the pandemic on basic service delivery as well as health-seeking behaviors, mental health, dietary habits and social/economic situation of Libyans and migrants alike.

The assessment aimed at gaining an understanding of the knowledge, attitudes, and practices as to transmission, prevention and treatment of the virus as well as of risks, available services in targeted municipalities, and preferred sources of information on COVID-19. As such, the assessment will allow UNICEF, the Libyan National Centre Disease Control, and the Ministry of Health along with other UN agencies and partners to provide an informed response to COVID-19 as part of risk communication and community engagement efforts.

As part of the assessment, Voluntās supported UNICEF in the development and implementation of a nationwide telephone survey in Libya with regional representativity. The analysis highlighted differences between Libyan nationals and non-Libyans (migrant population) to identify unique challenges for vulnerable groups. In addition to the final report, an online dashboard was created with the possibility of disaggregating data by region, gender and status of respondents. The findings presented to UNICEF will feed into UNICEF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya. A final report as well as a dashboard were shared with UNICEF, the National Centre for Disease Control and the Libyan Ministry of health, to support effective COVID-19 response efforts.

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The Libyan labour market of the future

The Libyan labour market of the future

The Libyan labour market of the future

Meaningful Societies
Case | Libya

On December 9, Voluntās presented the outcomes of a recent feasibility study for the establishment of a Labour Market Information System (LMIS) in Libya to Libyan government and private sector stakeholders. The meeting was arranged by the UN Migration Agency (IOM), where the opening remarks were given by  the IOM Libya’s Chief of Mission,  Federico Soda. This event provided an opportunity for Voluntās to present and discuss work that had been carried out for most of 2020 on behalf of IOM and funded by the European Union.

Better matching of labour demand and supply is required to reduce unemployment rates in Libya. This will also have a direct impact on improving living standards reducing push-factors for irregular migration. The establishment of a LMIS in Libya presents an opportunity to enhance the efficiency of the labour market through improved skills development, employment generation, and evidence production for policymaking. IOM, with the support of the European Union, is currently supporting the Libyan Government in laying down the foundation for a future LMIS. As part of these efforts, Voluntās has now finalized a comprehensive feasibility study focusing on the institutional preconditions for such a system to be established. The study built on a robust analysis of the existing legislative framework, mandates, relevant stakeholders and networks, as well as availability and quality of existing labor market data and information. Voluntās conducted a gap assessment building on desk research, a review of global best practices, a survey, and a large number of interviews with international actors, government representatives, TVET institutions, employers, jobseekers, and research organizations. The study resulted in a blueprint for Libya, describing the current framework conditions for the establishment of a LMIS and outlining recommendations for the way forward.

The project was carried out on behalf of IOM in partnership with the Libyan Ministry of Labour and funded by the European Union. It adds to Voluntās’ portfolio of projects on migration and employment in North Africa, delivered for partners such as Hivos, IOM, MEDA, SPARK, and UNICEF.

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Involvement in The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme

In collaboration with Baltic Sea Cluster Development Centre, Voluntās Policy Advisory (Voluntās) is currently involved in the “COVID19-Communities Response and Resilience” project targeting themes “Citizen engagement/community response” as well as “The Economic of Health Service Delivery”.

Supporting UNICEF on the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya

To support effective COVID-19 crisis communication and community outreach by the Libyan Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control, Voluntās Policy Advisory supported UNICEF in the development and implementation of a nationwide survey-based behavioral assessment in Libya.

The Libyan labour market of the future

On December 9, Voluntās presented the outcomes of a recent feasibility study for the establishment of a Labour Market Information System (LMIS) in Libya to Libyan government and private sector stakeholders.

Elections in Libya – perspectives and prospects

Elections in Libya – perspectives and prospects

Elections in Libya – perspectives and prospects

Meaningful Societies
Article | Libya

By Niklas Kabel Pedersen, Partner and Head of Voluntās Policy Advisory

In late August 2020

 

Faiez Serraj, Prime Minister and Head of the Presidential Council in Libya, and Agilah Saleh, President of the House of Representatives, simultaneously called for a ceasefire to the armed conflict that had been raging in western Libya since April 2019.[1]

Despite certain stakeholders in the eastern camp in Libya – notably including General Khalifa Haftar – waving off these calls as mere “marketing stunts”,[2] they succeeded in raising hopes for a breakthrough in the Libyan peace process. This included elevating the implementation of new general elections on the national agenda – a theme that was further underlined by Faiez Serraj himself on 21 August when he publicly called for elections to be held in March 2021.[3] And most recently as confirmed in statement on the UN-led Libyan consultative meeting of 7-9 September.[4]

 

[1] https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/libya-s-rival-governments-issue-calls-for-ceasefire-1.1066645

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/haftar-rejects-gna-call-libya-ceasefire-200823173428282.html

[3] http://en.alwasat.ly/news/libya/292983

[4] https://unsmil.unmissions.org/statement-hd-organised-libyan-consultative-meeting-7-9-september-2020-montreux-switzerland

The idea of holding new general elections is not new. Indeed, it has been a recurring issue ever since the June 2014 HoR elections were cast into doubt by part of the political elite in Libya. However, until now, no agreement has been reached to allow for their implementation.

Voluntās Policy Advisory has been working in Libya since 2012. With data collection and facts-based analysis we provide advice to national and international partners alike. Below, Niklas Kabel Pedersen, Head of Voluntās Policy Advisory provides some perspectives on potential challenges to holding national elections in Libya in the near future.

 

 

Voter registration

 

Registered voters: The High National Elections Commission (HNEC) is mandated to carry out national elections in Libya. It also holds the national voter register, which should form the basis of any future elections. There are no official current numbers of the voting age population in Libya; however, based on the 2012 update to the national census, there are estimated to be around 3.6 million eligible voters. Many believe this number to be too low even though the voter register had never reached this level prior. In 2012 – for the GNC elections – the HNEC succeeded in registering around 2.8 million Libyans in a manual paper-based voter registration process.

When changing the voter registration system in 2014 for the February CDA elections into a SMS-based system, only 1.1 million voters registered to vote. For the subsequent June 2014 HoR elections, this increased to 1.5 million registered voters. In late 2017/early 2018, HNEC carried out a voter registration update, which increased the overall number of Libyans currently registered to vote to around 2.5 million[1]. Out of these, around 1 million are women. Despite the noticeable increase in registrants, the numbers illustrate the need for work to be done to ensure a more comprehensive registration of eligible Libyans – thus adding legitimacy to the electoral outcomes. This is especially the case for women and youth, who are currently underrepresented in the voter register.[2]

Voter registration system: The current voter register is managed through a SMS-based system. This has allowed for easy registration of voters through sending a SMS to the HNEC servers. However, in recent years critics have publicly been questioning the credibility of the system raising the issue of potential fraud – especially through impersonation. The HNEC is therefore currently working on developing the main features of a new voter registration system – based on electronic/smart voter cards[3] – that will include additional safeguards against fraud. Having this in place will increase the perceived legitimacy of the electoral process, but will also require significant efforts, funding and time for full rollout.

[1] www.hnec.ly

[2] https://www.ifes.org/sites/default/files/ifes_2018_survey_on_voters_intent_libya.pdf

[3] https://www.libyaherald.com/2020/09/07/hnec-discusses-introducing-e-voter-cards-for-next-elections/

 

 

Election Management

 

COVID-19: Libya has been significantly impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The growth in cases is currently exponential[1] and the national health care system – already ruined by years of conflict – is facing significant challenges.[2] Extensive work has been done globally to study and analyze the impact of COVID-19 on elections[3], but the Libyan authorities are faced with the double challenge of managing a porous security situation in combination with a fragile health care system. Significant work will have to be done and support provided to ensure future elections are held in a manner that does not put the Libyan civilian population at risk. This will likely increase the budget needed for implementation as well as add to the timeline realistically achievable.

HNEC funding: HNEC is an independent national institution mandated by law to manage and organize all national elections in Libya. However, its budget is still to be approved by the parliament in order to be included into the national budget. Due to the political conflict and divide in Libya happening since 2014, HNEC’s budget is currently allocated by the Presidential Council. However, following recent statements about having elections take place in early 2021, the HNEC has been clear in communicating that no operational budget is currently being provided.[4] If elections are to be a credible tool for providing a peaceful and democratic transition of power, it requires a strong and capable electoral management body. Significant funding and time will therefore have to be provided to HNEC in advance of any potential elections.

Electoral security: Since the latest national elections in Libya in June 2014, armed conflict has been raging in various parts of the country. Most recently, western Libya has seen significant clashes take place since April 2019 with GNA-loyal forces fighting the forces loyal to General Khalifa Hafter and his Libyan National Army. As such, security will be an important challenge to future electoral processes. Recent surveys also highlight instability as the main concern of people with more than 60% citing violence as the biggest problem facing Libya.[5] The overall security environment in Libya remains complex with two competing governments and seemingly extensive foreign engagement on both sides. Disinformation efforts will likely increase when elections are scheduled as domestic groups and foreign backers tussle for power in a new government. Securing future elections will require significant efforts and coordination as the electoral process will not just encompass polling day, but also includes the transportation of electoral material – ballots etc. – as well as announcement of results and legal adjudication of potential disputes. Political will is needed to make this possible.

[1] https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/libya/

[2] https://reliefweb.int/report/libya/libya-covid-19-and-conflict-collide-libya-deepening-humanitarian-crisis

[3] https://www.idea.int/news-media/news/risk-mitigation-measures-national-elections-during-covid-19-crisis and https://www.ifes.org/publications/ifes-covid-19-briefing-series-safeguarding-health-and-elections

[4] https://www.libyaherald.com/2020/09/05/following-serrajs-call-for-march-elections-hnec-says-it-is-not-ready-for-elections-due-to-insufficient-funds/

[5] https://www.ifes.org/sites/default/files/ifes_2018_survey_on_voters_intent_libya.pdf

 

 

The Political Economy of Elections

 

Electoral system: Until now, the national elections in Libya have all been held through various electoral systems. The systems have varied from being party-focused in large constituencies, through being solely focused on individual independent candidates in smaller constituencies, to being a mix of both simultaneously[1]. As such, there has been no continuous stable legislative approach to how elections are governed, and seats allocated. This means that work will have to go into deliberating and agreeing politically on key issues such as constituency delineation, seat distribution, and the role of political parties before national elections can be held.

Public awareness: The level of participation in future elections in Libya will be an important determinant for the perceived legitimacy and credibility of the results. As such, it will be important to ensure a broad segment of the population is aware of the significance of participation as well as their role as voters, and potentially as candidates. In the 2012 GNC elections, around 1.8 million Libyans voted; a number that dropped dramatically in 2014 for the CDA and HoR elections with only slightly more than 400,000 and 600,000 voters participating respectively. With 2.5 million Libyans currently registered by HNEC to vote, the turnout will have to be high if the level of participation from 2012 is to be achieved. However, based on recent population surveys, the interest in participation is positively strong. As such, a large majority of Libyans say that elections are either very important and that every Libyan should absolutely participate (59%) or that elections are generally important and that Libyan citizens should try to participate (25%).[2] Important and significant efforts will have to be put into ensuring that these people actually participate so that the process is perceived as credible. This awareness raising will have to happen through both official campaigns by HNEC as well as civic education efforts carried out by and with Libyan civil society representatives.

[1] Ellen Lust & Voluntas (JMW Consulting): Libyan Election Parliamentary Study, 2013

[2] Ibid.

Amid persistent security concerns, a predatory economic system and a lack of shared political vision among Libyan politicians, the above illustrates a very top-level focus on challenges to future elections in Libya. However, despite these, the willingness of Libyans to engage in positive reform efforts to underpin a future democratic state continues to shine through. Voluntās supports national and international stakeholders in their efforts towards creating a society allowing all citizens to realize their full potential.

 

 

Voluntās Policy Advisory

 

Voluntās Policy Advisory has been working in Libya since 2012. With data collection and facts-based analysis we provide advice to national and international partners alike. We offer holistic consultancy services within a set framework of principles: meaningfulness, diversity, and sustainability. We deliver on all aspects of the program lifecycle from the inception to follow-up stages. As a part of this engagement, we use data, analysis, and insights to develop fact-based programming, strategies, and policies. We specialise in working with local partners and building their capacity to ensure the availability and collection of data from difficult environments and vulnerable groups. We use this data and insights to inform the public debate. We deliver at implementation and management support levels as well as reviews, monitoring, and evaluations.
Voluntās Policy Advisory builds on a track record of +100 projects in Africa, the Middle East and Asia with a strong focus on post-conflict environment for +40 clients. In 2017, we opened an office in Tunis to support our growing portfolio of projects in the region. We thereby have an on-the-ground presence in the region and a deep understanding of the socio-economic context, dynamics and political environment.

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Engaging Tunisian youth in politics

Engaging Tunisian youth in politics

Engaging Tunisian youth in politics

Meaningful Societies
Democracy | Tunisia | youth

Fostering youth engagement in the political sphere holds the potential to develop a lifelong engagement in the democratic process and sustain Tunisia’s democratic transition.

Search for Common Ground, an INGO focused on peacebuilding and conflict transformation, has leveraged the role of mass media by producing and broadcasting the reality television program “I am the President” to reach large youth and adult audiences across Tunisia. The program sought to increase young women and men’s interest in constructively participating in politics, peacefully engaging with their national and local governments, and improving mutual understanding and trust, ultimately contributing to higher youth turnout in the 2019 elections in Tunisia.

Voluntas Policy Advisory supported Search for Common Ground before the implementation of the program, conducting a baseline assessment analyzing Tunisian youth perceptions and engagement in politics and democratic processes and the role of media. Moreover, Voluntas evaluated the program and its impact, capturing lessons learned and recommendations for future programming.

Young participants from the television program “I am the President”.

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Local Conflict Sensitivity Analysis in Libya

Local Conflict Sensitivity Analysis in Libya

Local Conflict Sensitivity Analysis in Libya

Meaningful Societies
Analysis | Libya
Situation

Projects implemented in conflict-ridden and highly volatile areas have a high likelihood of both influencing and being shaped by conflict dynamics. Thus, conflict-sensitivity analyses have grown essential to minimize unintended negative effects (Do-No-Harm) and maximize positive impacts of interventions carried out by external actors.

Local conflict-sensitive approaches are of paramount importance in war-torn Libya, where the situation is continuously unfolding. With this in mind, the Dutch organization VNG International commissioned Voluntas to map existing local drivers of conflict and review potential ways in which assistance activities could interact in a context-specific way allowing for engagements to be tailored at local level. The analysis was carried out as part of the EU-funded Improved Service Delivery and Accountable at Local Level (ISAL) program in Libya.

Read more about the program

 

Voluntas Impact

To ensure the sustainability of the mapping and assessment, Voluntas developed a conflict sensitivity tracker to be used for continuous scrutiny and adaptation of VNGI program staff. Furthermore, while the tools, analytical framework, and output reporting was developed by Voluntas, actual data collection was carried out by VNGI staff on the ground.

The analysis materialized in a set of municipality profiles, which provide an understanding of on-the-ground dynamics. Furthermore, Voluntas developed a risk matrix allowing partners to capitalize on the risks, dilemmas, and opportunities identified.

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