Following the 6 February twin earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, tens of thousands of lives were lost, a remarkable number of buildings were either destroyed or were inhabitable across the hardest hit provinces, and emergency needs of affected people were amplified due to harsh winter conditions.
Seven months after the disaster, over 19,000 earthquake-affected people have access to lifesaving shelter, sanitation, hygiene items and services such as tents, latrines, and hygiene kits. Nearly 1,200 households residing in the temporary sites were supported through temporary settlement coordination.
On February 6, 2023, two powerful earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 struck southern Türkiye and northern Syria. In Türkiye, these earthquakes heavily affected 11 provinces where approximately 14 million people, including nearly 2 million Syrian refugees, reside. Over 50,000 people lost their lives, and over 100,000 people were injured. The consequences of this disaster were far-reaching, affecting a total of 9.1 million people and causing the displacement of 3 million of them. Additionally, 300,000 buildings were completely destroyed.
Communities in Hatay, Adıyaman, and Kahramanmaraş faced significant challenges following the twin earthquakes. Adıyaman, with a population of approximately 632,000, lost over 8,000 lives, witnessed the displacement of about 123,000 individuals. In Hatay, with a population of approximately 2 million, around 23,000 people lost their lives and nearly 565,000 people left the province. Similarly, Kahramanmaraş, home to more than 1.17 million people, saw casualties exceeding 12,000 and over 700,000 individuals were relocated. The emergency need for shelter is still urgent in the three provinces, leading to about 1,800 people to seek refuge in tents in Adıyaman, over 40,000 in Hatay and around 550,000 in Kahramanmaraş. Additionally, containers provided by operational actors in the area made temporary homes for about 50,000 people in Adıyaman, 120,000 in Hatay, and 25,000 in Kahramanmaraş.
Recognizing the dire situation, Acted has taken important steps to provide support to the earthquake-affected population across three provinces, Hatay, Adıyaman and Kahramanmaraş in Türkiye. Over the past seven months since February, Acted with funding from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), has provided assistance by offering basic resources. These include tents, shelter materials, emergency shelter, kitchen items, hygiene kits, baby kits, as well as essential sanitation facilities like latrines and showers. Acted’s approach also involves coordinating site services in informal settlements through site profiling, referrals, and monitoring of the situation on the field. This comprehensive intervention aims to alleviate the pressing needs of the affected communities and play a role in the journey towards a recovery.
Due to the challenges mentioned above, addressing urgent needs has become essential in these three provinces. The aftermath of the earthquakes exposed the vulnerabilities of the communities, prompting a swift and coordinated response.
While Acted has focused on the provinces hardest hit by the 6 February earthquakes in its response, the exact areas of intervention were decided based on close coordination with local authorities and other local and international partners. The locations targeted include the areas of high severity of needs which were underserved. The response is expected to benefit overall estimated 39,850 earthquake affected individuals.
Acted’s response was strategically designed in two phases. In the initial phase, lasting three weeks from early February until the end of the month, concentrated on meeting the most critical needs of the affected population. This involved distributing essential NFIs, including tents, hygiene and shelter items. The selection of response sites was coordinated with local authorities, national, and international partners to ensure efficient assistance delivery.
As our staff in the Hatay base, Nezir attests,
Hatay was among the most damaged areas by the earthquake. People lost everything, even their mattresses. Infrastructure has been severely damaged, and people were struggling to find the basics for survival.
Acted’s intervention has contributed to the transformation of stories of struggle into tales of resilience. Mahmoud reflects on the impact Acted have had, stating,
I can see and hear that beneficiaries are really appreciative of the assistance at these difficult times.
The subsequent phase, extending up to now, seven months after the earthquake, underscored Acted’s commitment to provide short-term relief, with a particular emphasis on establishing temporary, emergency solutions. Our efforts aimed at ensuring reliable access to sanitation services and offering support to local authorities in laying the field work for community recovery. The provision of life-saving shelter and NFI assistance remained a priority, including NFI items like hygiene products and baby items.
Nezir, reflecting on the situation, highlighted the importance of preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
Infectious diseases were a real concern, especially in crowded areas. Our intervention made a difference. This has helped keep everyone safer.
In line with the Temporary Settlement Support Sector strategy, Acted’s intervention extended to informal sites where cluster of tents were installed in neighborhoods instead of formal camps or container cities. These informal sites have been struggling with high levels of unmet needs. Acted’s initial aim was to identify existing or damaged infrastructures and services, as well as the challenges and conditions faced by internally displaced persons living in these sites. Acted’s mobile teams are visiting these neighborhoods, identifying urgent needs, referring individuals to the services based on their needs, and monitoring the situation in the neighborhoods to ensure that protection risks are mitigated. Temporary Settlement Support is essential to ensure that access to services is continued, especially during the relocation from informal sites to formal sites.
The project has provided emergency assistance to earthquake affected individuals. The future holds the necessity of further initiatives and activities that will drive earthquake-affected communities toward sustainable recovery and resilience. Acted’s timely intervention has not only offered immediate relief, but also has set the stage for durable changes and sustainable recovery.