One year after devastating earthquakes struck 11 provinces in southern Türkiye, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has opened three “accessible community centers” – in Adıyaman, Hatay, and Kahramanmaraş – to provide urgently needed care services to the elderly, persons with disabilities and other groups left vulnerable by the disaster.
The facilities were constructed and equipped with funding from the United Kingdom under a broader US$1.7 million partnership with UNDP that also includes efforts to revive livelihoods and restore municipal services.
“As we mark the one-year mark from the disaster, the needs of millions of earthquake survivors remain acute,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton in Hatay. “To remain true to our principle of ‘leaving no one behind,’ we need to continue expanding our support to the region’s recovery.”
“UK is proud to be here today with UNDP for the opening of a community-based accessibility center”, said Wendy Wyver, the UK’s Deputy Ambassador to Türkiye. “Working with local partners to restore care provision, livelihoods, and municipal services can help promote a wider socio-economic recovery while meeting vital needs of those who are most vulnerable.”
Staffed by trained social workers, the centers will provide psychological, social, and legal support and consultancy services. Each center has an accessible park and a disability-friendly playground. UNDP has supplied customized buses to each center to transport persons with disabilities and provide mobile services to elderly and disabled children and adults who are unable to visit the centers in person. Advice, counseling, and respite services are also provided to caregivers, who often saw their responsibilities multiply in the wake of the destruction that the earthquakes caused to residences and care facilities.
Two of the centers are purpose-built prefabricated structures; one is a fully refurbished existing structure. The centers are designed in line with “universal design” principles, which aim for maximum inclusivity and accessibility to all. Services are provided in line with fundamental human rights, gender equality, and non-discrimination, while the building operations also respect the natural environment.
UNDP also supported the definition of standard operating procedures to guide municipalities in providing social services in post-disaster situations. Additionally, 64 women and 48 men working in the social service provision system in Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş, and Hatay received training to better address the diverse needs and vulnerabilities of citizens and to combat gender-based violence.
In addition to social services, the UK-funded UNDP program is also providing vocational training and employment placement in the three provinces to restore livelihoods and revive business activities. So far, 952 earthquake survivors have received vocational training for high-demand sectors, including foreign trade, cooking, software-driven carpet design, welding, CNC operation, and call-center staff, and 319 found jobs. Specialized business development services and training were provided to 35 businesses and institutions. Seven common-use areas in five different provinces were also refurbished to provide venues for vocational training, business development, childcare services, and production activities.
UNDP also prepared earthquake-focused solid waste management plans for Adıyaman, Hatay, and Kahramanmaraş municipalities to ensure post-disaster continuity in sustainable waste management. With UK funding, UNDP delivered 550 waste containers, two street sweepers, and a dust abatement system to municipalities in these provinces to increase their waste management capacity.