Youth Embark on Cross-Country Quest for Libyan Voices

Libyan youth on DisTour bus
A tour bus named DisTour traveled to over 20 cities in western Libya to raise youth awareness on political processes related to the constitution.
Remote areas are polled on upcoming constitution
“Our goal was to give every voice a chance.”

Young activists in Libya took to the road to help youth better navigate the roadmap of the country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. From November 2012-April 2013, the civil society group H20 crisscrossed the country's vast countryside in a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and promote public participation in drafting a new constitution.

“We want to go national,” said a member of H20* after completing the first leg of the trip in December 2012.

After struggling through 42 years of repression and surviving a bloody revolution, Libya is undergoing its own journey. For the first time in a generation, Libyans will have an opportunity to shape their government through a new national constitution.

With material and logistical support from USAID and with H20’s bus leading the way, civil society took the driver’s seat in ensuring that all young people and perspectives are part of Libya’s critical political process.

“Our goal was to give every voice a chance,” said another member of the H20 team. “We explained to people that we didn’t care if they were pro-Qadhafi or a leader in the opposition, we just wanted to make sure they had a chance at expressing their concerns about the constitution.”

H20’s DisTour bus—named to phonetically sound like the Arabic word for “constitution”—covered Libya from border to border, reaching many remote areas. Starting first with over 20 cities throughout western Libya, the DisTour team distributed booklets on the transitional roadmap while conducting local surveys to document what communities would like to see in the new constitution. H20 then covered eastern and southern Libya, where voices in desolate parts of the Libyan Desert and mountain ranges, as well as its populated coast, got their chance to speak and be heard. This data will be presented to the Constitutional Drafting Committee that is scheduled to be popularly elected in the near future. 

H20 targets historically marginalized areas and tailors constitution outreach messages to each community. In the remote Nafusa Mountains, the group encountered high rates of illiteracy and resorted to conducting the survey orally with each participating resident.

Travelling sometimes between closed borders of conflicting cities, the group gained entrance after explaining what they were trying to do. “We were welcomed in people’s homes, and at their dinner tables,” said yet another member of the group.

Complementary support for the bus tour is also being provided by the U.S. State Department.

*Names of H20 members not available.

Last updated: September 26, 2013

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