Turkey – Social Cohesion events

Peace-building sapling

Şahinbey Municipality and Şahinbey Association organized a tree planting event to strengthen the bonds between Syrian refugees and Turkish members of the host community. The participants planted hundreds of saplings. The olive trees symbolize peace and are a symbol of the friendship between Turkish and Syrian communities.

Şahinbey Municipality and Şahinbey Association organized a tree planting event to strengthen the bonds between Syrian refugees and Turkish members of the host community. The participants planted hundreds of saplings. The olive trees symbolize peace and are a symbol of the friendship between Turkish and Syrian communities.

Planting trees is a great way to be in nature and contribute to it and create a place of remembrance for the community.

Qudra 2 in Türkiye supports municipalities in strengthening their capacities to deliver services more transparently and inclusively. It brings people from diverse communities together to exchange and engage with each other, contributing to social cohesion.

Score for all

Syrian refugee girls and Turkish girls united to participate in an exhibition football match against a local girls’ team in Adana, Türkiye. This soccer game aimed to promote social cohesion and raise awareness about the challenges refugees face. It provided children with the opportunity to showcase their skills and connect with their peers. The match was a powerful demonstration of the unifying power of sports, bringing girls from diverse backgrounds together to achieve a common goal.

The event was attended by Deputy Mayor Murat Bilal, who highlighted the crucial role of sports in fostering social cohesion. He reiterated the municipality’s commitment to supporting the harmonious integration of communities through sports.

In Türkiye, Qudra 2 supports community support projects that promote social cohesion by bringing people together and facilitating mutual understanding.

A Social Market for the common good

Küçükçekmece Municipality, with the support of Qudra 2, promotes solidarity, sustainability, and equality. The municipality’s Social Market Project aims to strengthen solidarity, promote sustainable consumption habits, and achieve equitable and justice in the city.

Küçükçekmece Municipality Social Market offers a variety of food and hygiene items, and shoppers are provided with credits based on their needs as determined by social workers. The project ensures equitable benefits for all residents.

The social market is a pilot to test alternatives to the food support provided by the municipality. It replaces food baskets with a credit system that enables them to choose their own priorities and shop at the market. This allows the recipients greater choice and allows them to identify their own priorities.

In addition, the Küçükçekmece Municipality continues its Food Bank programme, which has gained strength through community solidarity in recent years. Social service experts review applications and determine which families are eligible to benefit from the Food Bank. The financial status of shoppers is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that assistance goes to those who need it most. The social market and the food bank are also supported with the refrigerated vehicles for collecting donated food items from the companies or producers.

Qudra 2 supports Küçükçekmece Municipality in its commitment to promoting social solidarity, sustainability, and equality in Küçükçekmece, while providing support to those in need through innovative programs and partnerships.

Food Security Material Support: Composting

Şanlıurfa Municipality supports food security by reusing waste to produce organic fertiliser and hot water. Qudra 2 supports Şanlıurfa Municipality in procuring the necessary machines for local farmers to create organic fertilisers.

Cities must be at the forefront of the fight against climate change. With its new project, Şanlıurfa Municipality will create the infrastructure to produce organic fertiliser and hot water from waste products. Qudra 2 will support the municipality in setting up one industrial and three household-sized composting machines.

The new machines will create organic compost, hot water, and gas for cooking. The compost will be used in one of the municipality’s gardens and greenhouses, where vulnerable community members can grow vegetables and herbs. Approximately 500 older adults, women, persons with disabilities, refugees, and children will benefit from the organic fertiliser and hot water obtained through waste recycling in the 6-month project period. Gas produced during the composting process will be used for cooking and to heat water in the municipal facility’s kitchen.

Efforts to tackle climate change must be rooted in the community. As part of the project, the municipality will raise awareness of climate change and make a case for zero waste and a more circular economy. An awareness-raising programme and booklets will primarily target children and youth. The project will target over 500 children in close coordination between the municipality and the Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of National Education.

Strengthening Food Security

With Qudra 2’s support, Adana Metropolitan Municipality is countering the pressures of rapidly increasing food and agricultural production prices by strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers and vulnerable households.

The project aims to support farmers to increase productivity while supporting the most vulnerable households to overcome food insecurity by providing food vouchers.

Smallholder farmers’ productivity is increased through guaranteed contracts, increased production, improved post-harvest management of crops (e.g. appropriate storage), market access and resilience for identified food chains. The project will be carried out in cooperation with the Meryem Women’s Cooperative, supported by the municipality.

Thirty vulnerable smallholder farmers who were selected for the project will sign contracts with the Meryem Women’s cooperative. The municipality will provide these farmers with seeds, organic compost, and technical advice. The cooperative will receive training on food sanitation, packaging and processing techniques. The cooperative will buy the identified farmers’ produce and sell it to the market using its established network. The profits from the sales will be used to procure “market cards” for vulnerable households. These are vouchers for families to buy food and essential products from local markets. 300 households will be assessed concerning their food insecurity. Twenty food-insecure and vulnerable households will benefit from food market cards. Host communities and refugees will benefit equally from the measure.

Vertical Agriculture Courses

Qudra 2 supports Seyhan Municipality’s Women Solidarity Centre to provide vertical agriculture courses in which local women learn about innovative agriculture, enabling them to grow, harvest, and sell their products in the market.

Vertical farming resembles greenhouse farming, where metal reflectors and artificial lighting augment natural sunlight. The primary goal of vertical farming is maximising crop output in a limited space. Vertical farming seeks to mitigate the risks faced by conventional agriculture and increase sustainability by preventing land loss, reducing agricultural residues, mitigating seasonal risks, and reducing water and waste problems seen in traditional agriculture. Yields per metre can therefore exceed conventional spaces ten-fold.

In Seyhan Municipality’s project, local women grow crops such as lettuces, peppers, spinach and tomatoes in a vertical greenhouse located on the terrace of a municipality-run community centre.

The products are sought after in the local market: Seyhan Municipality has successfully established cooperation with a local branch of a national supermarket chain, and some local restaurants are buying produce from the vertical garden. The earnings are distributed among the producer women.

Beyond vertical farming, Seyhan Municipality’s Women Solidarity Centre also offers other courses, including handicrafts and ceramics. Participants in the activities have set up their own cooperative, the Seyhan Producing Women Cooperative, to market their products on Turkey’s biggest e-commerce platforms, including Trendyol and Mia Mano.

Suruç Environmental and Zero Wastes Projects

Suruç Municipality is redoubling its efforts to protect the environment and reduce waste. With the support of Qudra 2, a new project aims to develop a waste management system which contributes to minimising waste generation while at the same time promoting efficient recycling.

Since 2020, Suruç Municipality has been working on environmental protection and zero waste with the support of the Qudra 2 programme, including setting up a dedicated unit to address these challenges. The municipality is starting to implement its fourth project phase focusing on youth and progressing towards “zero waste”.

All four projects of the municipality aimed to develop a waste management system which contributes to minimising waste generation and efficient recycling. Awareness raising among the local community in Suruç has been a critical part of the intervention. The projects contribute to a cleaner city and improve residents’ everyday lives. Better and more equal access to services also reduces tensions in the community. Social cohesion is strengthened through tackling common challenges and working together towards a shared, cleaner environment.

The first two projects focused on textile recycling. 15 textile waste collection boxes were placed in the district, and a Municipality laundry room was re-established to clean the collected textile wastes and prepare them for reuse. A second-hand clothing store was established, where those in need could get free clothes. Information sessions and awareness-raising campaigns were carried out to encourage people living in Suruç to use the textile boxes and recycle their textile wastes. Young people and women showed a particular interest in the project. 610 people attended awareness-raising training on recycling, and 2,500 benefited from second-hand clothing support. Although the project ended in April 2021, the laundry and shop continue to operate. So far, 18,000 people have benefited from clothing support.

In its second project, the municipality sought to build on the interest shown by young people and women to tackle the issue of waste. The second project raised awareness of the importance of environmental protection while improving packaging recycling. The municipality organised competitions between youth and adults to encourage waste collection in the district. 260 young people who collected the most waste participated in a breakfast event with the mayor to convey their needs and expectations and benefitted from educational support. Ten adults who collected the most waste benefitted from small-value market vouchers to support their families. In total, 1,760 people were reached through the awareness-raising campaigns.

In addition to collecting packaging waste, stale bread and fruit peels were collected and converted into ethanol. The ethanol was used to produce disinfectant spray in a laboratory set up by the municipality under the project. The first disinfectant was distributed to vulnerable community members to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The keen interest of young people was a welcome surprise for the municipality’s team. Their participation in the project contributes to addressing a critical challenge in Turkey. Research has found that children and youth often feel overlooked and excluded [1]. Effective channels for participation have to be created to counteract this, allowing young people to discover their strengths and feel part of their local communities. The recycling project in Suruç has proven to be one such opportunity.

Suruç’s fourth project cycle will build on the motivation of its young community members. It will focus on actively involving young people to contribute to a sustainable environment. In this project, young people will work together towards common goals, regardless of nationality or gender.

Recycling activities will continue. In addition, the project will promote “upcycling”. Young people will be supported to give “waste” a new lease on life by learning to transform by-products, waste materials, and useless or unwanted products into new materials or products with, for example, artistic or environmental value.

Furthermore, the ethanol production laboratory will host activities for young people interested in cologne and soap-making. The process of turning food waste into alcohol will be explained, and the final products will be distributed among vulnerable households.

Throughout the project, increasing participation and positive social interaction aim to contribute to social cohesion by building relationships among people of different origins and strengthening a sense of belonging in the community and trust in the municipality.

[1] [1] https://rideproject.eu/media/ride-the-principles-approaches-tr.pdf

Peer Bullying and Child Rights Seminars

Our partner in Istanbul, Küçükçekmece Municipality, seeks to provide services for all community members to enable a better future for all. A Needs Analysis Report published by the municipality in February 2021 identified bullying as an urgent problem at local schools. The municipality, in cooperation with the national education authorities in the district, organised a series of bullying and child rights seminars to address the issue.

77.3% of Syrians surveyed for the needs analysis conducted by Küçükçekmece Municipality reported that their children were exposed to violence and bullying at the hands of their peers. Based on this fact, the seminars are organised with the participation of psychologists focusing on bullying and child rights. They are held at schools where refugee children receive education in cooperation with district national education authorities.

Küçükçekmece Municipality is also highlighting the issue of bullying in coordination mechanisms with relevant local actors and is developing further projects to tackle the challenge.

Eat Healthy, Live Active

In cooperation with Kahramanmaraş Municipality, our local partner İSAR Association started implementing the “Steps to Sports” project. The project aims at raising awareness among school-age children about healthy eating and active living. Sports courses will continue for five months for 70 children from refugee and host communities to contribute to social cohesion and help children develop healthy habits at an early age.

At the start of the project, baselines were taken concerning, for example, strength, flexibility, and other health indicators. The measurements are repeated monthly to monitor the progress of the children. Children received advice on healthy snacks from a licensed dietitian. Furthermore, each child will be interviewed at least once during the project to give them a voice to share their experiences.

Qudra 2 Supports UMT In Strengthening Its Capacity

Twenty staff of the Union of Municipalities in Turkey (UMT) were trained on EU project management methodology and the EU’s Practical Guide to Contract Procedures (“PRAG”). The participants received computer training to improve their computing skills.

Qudra 2 supports UMT in strengthening its capacity to facilitate municipalities’ access to external funding sources. Many municipalities in Turkey have limited resources and networks to access external funding to address the consequences of calamities like the Syrian refugee crisis. A strengthened UMT will be able to support municipalities in handling grants and implementing projects that will ultimately benefit local communities.

Towards a More Inclusive Basic Service Delivery

In Turkey, Community Support Projects (CSPs) support municipalities in making services better and more inclusive. One focus of CSPs has been on providing more and better psychosocial support (PSS). Through community projects, municipalities provide accessible services, raise awareness of mental health issues, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

For example, Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality established a help desk and a mobile health team under the Migration Department of the Municipality. The project aimed to reach out to individuals with disabilities and chronic diseases living in rural areas with limited access to health and psychosocial services. 2,000 people with disabilities have benefited from the PSS sessions. The sessions were conducted through household visits or provided in the health centre of the migration department. Usually, one session is held to identify if there is an acute problem and depending on the need, clients are referred to relevant institutions.

In Istanbul, Küçükçekmece Municipality established the Migrant and Refugee Coordination Center established to offer PSS services to refugees. Psychologists offer advice to refugees and recommend those who have more severe mental health issues to hospital psychiatric facilities. The center also attempts to help people fit into the community and build relationships, thereby increasing persons’ overall well-being. 400 people are expected to benefit from the support.

Overall, 4,185 women and children have benefited from PSS services provided under the CSPs so far. 1,016 children and youth participated in protection activities through arts and sports.

Municipalities and Social Cohesion: Dialogue and Best Practices Workshop

In Turkey, Qudra 2 supports exchange among municipalities and other stakeholders such as civil society organisations (CSOs) or international organisations.

A recent “Dialogue and Best Practices” workshop brought together the representatives of CSOs, donor institutions and other national and international organisations with representatives of Turkish public institutions including The Presidency Office of Migration Management, the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, and the Directorate General for Local Governments of the Ministry of Environment, Urbanisation and Climate Change. During the workshop, participants discussed a common understanding of social cohesion in Turkey and the role of municipalities in promoting social cohesion.

As one of the main outcomes of the event, municipalities expressed that they had difficulties in getting in contact with CSOs. CSOs representatives welcomed the interest of municipalities to design and implement projects focusing on social cohesion.

Representatives of the participating institutions discussed possible cooperation projects.