Türkiye Acted

Providing emergency assistance and restoring dignified living conditions after the 2023 earthquakes

On February 6, 2023, two devastating earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, causing catastrophic loss of life and widespread damage to houses and infrastructure. Over 55,000 people lost their lives, and another 121,500 were injured.

Survivors faced dire living conditions, without homes, forced to reside in makeshift shelter units, and lacking access to basic necessities including food, water, and hygiene items, due to the destruction of roads, markets, water stations, and power plants.

Acted was among the first international organizations to deploy a large-scale emergency response to the earthquakes-affected communities on both sides of the border, as early as February 13. In Türkiye, with the support and funding of the European Union, Acted carried out a multisectoral project aimed at preserving the well-beingand restore the dignity cof earthquake-affected communities in Hatay, Adıyaman and Kahramanmaraş provinces by alleviating their most pressing needs such as shelter, essential kitchen and shelter supplies, hygiene items and sanitation facilities

Thanks to the support and funding of the European Union, in 2023, Acted reached a total of 63,970 individuals with post-earthquake emergency assistance for these pressing needs.

European Commission & Acted joint field visit – Dulkadiroğlu district – Kahramanmaraş province – July 2023

Immediate support for those who have lost everything in earthquake-affected areas of Türkiye

On the morning of February 6, numerous residents of Hatay, Adıyaman and Kahramanmaraş provinces found themselves without a home and without the basic necessities required for survival. Acted’s own staff members, some directly affected by the earthquakes, reported the massively destructive impact:

Hatay was among the most damaged areas by the earthquake. People lost everything, even their mattresses. Buildings were severely damaged, and people were struggling to find the basics for survival.

Nezir, Acted project officer, Hatay

With the support of the @eu_echo, Acted rapidly carried out emergency distributions to provide families with shelter solutions to protect themselves from the harsh winter weather, as well as basic non-food items, which had, for the most part, been lost during the earthquakes.

Acted distributed 235 tents and 1,799 shelter kits (blankets, mattresses, tarpaulins), as well as 4,244 kitchen kits (pots, pans, plates, cutlery), reaching 21,420 individuals with immediate relief assistance in the months following the earthquake.

My kitchen was completely destroyed by the earthquake. I couldn’t cook any food for my son. On top of this, I would use my kitchen to bake and sell pastries for extra money. Because of the earthquake, this source of revenue was taken from, at a moment of despair when I needed it most.

Zeynep, Hatay

Towards the end of 2023, once local markets had sufficiently recovered, Acted began transitioning from an in-kind assistance modality (kits) towards vouchers, ensuring that earthquake-affected communities had more agency with regards to the items they wished to receive depending on their own specific needs at household level.

Acted distributed 359 shelter vouchers and 3,889 kitchen vouchers, reaching another 19,445 individuals.

Kitchen vouchers distribution – Onikişubat district – Kahramanmaraş province – November 2023

Preserving dignified living conditions through hygiene and sanitation

As earthquake-affected persons set up makeshift shelters, and then began moving towards informal self-settled sites without access to basic hygiene items and sanitation facilities, public health and epidemics became a major concern.

Access to sanitation remained a problem even in “tent cities” and “container cities” managed by local authorities, where the sheer number of residents would often overwhelm the limited capacity of the few sanitation units installed there.

In order to respond to these needs, with the support of the European Union, Acted distributed over 5,300 hygiene kits and vouchers to earthquake-affected families, which contained items to cover hygiene-related needs for all family members regardless of age, gender or disability. These kits included items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, wipes, pieces of underwear, diapers, sanitary wipes, etc. Over 19,700 people benefited from these hygiene items.

The hygiene items were such a relief for me, especially those for babies. I have two very young sons, and I was always very anxious about finding suitable diapers for them.

Elif, Adıyaman

In addition to this, Acted installed emergency latrine and shower units in displacement sites, to ensure the access of earthquake residents to hygiene and sanitation facilities, and thereby preserving the dignity of their living conditions. Acted installed 236 latrine units and 209 shower units with the European Union’s support.

Latrine units installation – Adıyaman district – Adıyaman province – October 2023

Towards the long term: Improving conditions in displacement sites

Aside from emergency relief, Acted also looked towards solutions to ensure that the support received by communities right after the earthquake would improve their long-term resilience and set them on the path towards recovery.

In Opet container city (Hatay province), for instance, Acted constructed 211 wooden shading areas, which improved the converted containers hosting 1,055 Syrian refugees, and which were susceptible to very high temperatures when exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day.

Shading spaces installation on converted containers – Kırıkhan district – Hatay province – December 2023

Acted also carried out various other types of communal improvements in informal (self-settled) and formal (government-managed) displacement sites throughout Hatay and Adıyaman provinces, as part of its response under the Temporary Settlements Support sector. With the funding of the European Union, Acted installed 65 benches, 25 communal tents, and 3 gazebos, to create communal areas sheltered from the sun, rain, cold, and wind – as such shared spaces are typically very lacking in displacement sites, creating risks of social isolation.

In 2024, Acted will continue providing basic, life-saving support to earthquake-affected communities, especially in the most damaged regions such as Hatay, and supporting local authorities towards the progressive reconstruction of homes, restoration of services, and recovery of markets and income.

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