UNDP shipments to earthquake zone support early recovery efforts in Türkiye

May 3, 2023
Photo: UNDP Türkiye

Deliveries aim to help in resuming public services and improving environmental protection in container cities

Ankara, 4 May 2023 – With the delivery of containers, pipes and waste management equipment in the last days of April 2023, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continued to provide modest but much needed support to the Turkish provinces hardest-hit by the earthquakes. The supplies focus on restoring the provision of public services, enhancing living conditions in container cities and protecting endangered cultural heritage artifacts. 

UNDP delivered 17 dormitory-style containers to ISKUR, the Turkish national employment agency, in Adiyaman (5), Hatay (3), Kahramanmaras (5) and Malatya (4). ISKUR lost many of its premises in the earthquakes and much of its staff were left homeless. The containers will provide temporary housing and offices for outposted ISKUR personnel so that employment services aimed at restoring livelihoods for local residents can resume in the most-affected areas. 

ISKUR Deputy General Director Varol Dur and UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton together oversaw the placement of containers for ISKUR’s Hatay team in a eucalyptus grove in a public park in Antakya on 28 April 2023. 

“Alongside food and shelter, getting earthquake survivors back to work has to be top priority,” said UNDP’s Vinton. “The faster livelihoods can be restored, the better the chances of a wider economic revival that can trigger a virtuous cycle that will bring people back to the region.”

“Starting with public work programs and cash-for-work schemes, we are taking the first steps in supporting people who have lost their homes and their jobs as a result of the earthquakes to get back to normal life and restore employment in the region,” said ISKUR’s Dur. 

Restoring economic activity in the worst-hit locations will be a daunting challenge, with an estimated 220,000 businesses reported to have been completely destroyed in the earthquakes. An assessment conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that hours worked across the 11 most-affected provinces fell by 16 percent in the wake of the disaster, compared to the same period of the previous year, equivalent to the loss of 657,417 jobs. The impact was concentrated in four provinces: Malatya, which lost 58.8 percent of hours worked; Adiyaman, 48.1 percent; Hatay, 45.2 percent; and Kahramanmaras, 43.1 percent. 

This outlook was confirmed in an analysis conducted by the TEPAV thinktank based on social insurance figures reported by the region’s employers. Employment plunged by one-third in the earthquake zone in the month after the disaster, TEPAV concluded, with an estimated 614,000 jobs erased overnight. Again, the biggest losses were reported in Kahramanmaras, with a drop of 68.1 percent; Hatay, 57.9 percent; Adiyaman, 46.7 percent; and Malatya, 45.9 percent.

In these conditions, dignified shelter remains a priority both for workers seeking to remain in the region and for employers desperate to retain workforces depleted through migration.

To assist in this effort, UNDP is supplying drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities for three container cities being constructed in Hatay, Adiyaman and Kahramanmaras by the Needs Map NGO founded by UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Mert Firat. With the cities expected to welcome the first residents in June 2023, UNDP delivered a first shipment of pipes and other supplies to the region on 13 April 2023, with installation already begun in Hatay. This will be followed by the supply of mobile wastewater treatment plants, which can be moved to other facilities once the container cities are vacated, and washers and dryers for laundry.

In April UNDP also completed the delivery of 25 containers to the Hatay firefighting service. The fire department building in Antakya was destroyed during the earthquakes, together with fire trucks and other supplies provided earlier by UNDP under a program funded by the European Union. The containers, ordered before the disaster as components of a firefighting school to serve the wider region, were repurposed for the unit’s emergency needs.

UNDP also equipped 20 containers delivered earlier to archaeological museums in Hatay and Kahramanmaras with air-conditioning units to ensure proper climate control for storing priceless historical artifacts while recovery and restoration operations are under way.

These deliveries come in addition to the supply of a street-sweeping truck and other waste management equipment that were provided to the municipality of Kilis on 27 April 2023 to mark the launch of a new earthquake response partnership between UNDP and the United Kingdom. These efforts will be followed by the provision of mobile care services for the elderly and persons with disabilities and new vocational training courses for earthquake survivors. 

In total, UNDP has already provided equipment and supplies worth more than US$1.5 million in the earthquake response with a further US$28 million mobilized to date for similar efforts. 

For more information

Bahar Paykoç, Communications Officer for UNDP in Türkiye, bahar.paykoc@undp.org