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Using mural art to promote a migrant helpline in Libya

How an unexpected twist resulted in an inclusive, participatory mural


The context

Migrant communities in Libya are very diverse, as they represent more than 40 different nationalities, with various cultures and languages and different age groups. There is a constant need to design a variety of visibility and monitoring tools and activities to ensure that the awareness raising information is clear and accessible.

Since migrants have limited access to smart phones and Internet, IOM implements a wide variety of offline activities, such as direct awareness sessions, art and cultural activities, photography workshops and exhibitions, billboards, and murals. 

Under the COMPASS project, the community engagement team wanted to identify migrants gathering points to implement awareness raising activities in Tripoli.

The first idea: Billboards in areas where migrants often gather

Migrants often gather under huge commercial billboards in the streets seeking the shade, so the team decided to install awareness raising billboards in these locations. They conducted community consultations to finalize the messages and designs but soon after the installation of the billboards, they had to be removed unexpectedly.

The pivot: A mural in the collective housing area

The team went back to the initial step of searching for gathering spots, and thought of the migrants’ collective housing. IOM staff pitched the idea to the landlord and migrant focal points who were living there, and everyone welcomed the idea. The team contacted two talented local women artists who were able to interpret the awareness message about safe migration through a colourful, positive painting. The sketch was shared with the landlord and the migrant focal points for approval before painting began.