Turkey: Earthquake in Bingol Province Appeal No. 09/2003 Operations Update No. 3

Appeal launched on 2 May 2003 for CHF 2,384,000 (USD 1,770,079 or EUR 1,579,296) for six months for 36,000 beneficiaries. Period covered: 2 May - 15 July 2003
The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 180 countries. For more information: www.ifrc.org

In Brief

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Related Appeals: Turkey Annual Appeal (01.80/03)

Operational Summary: The Federation together with the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay as it is known in Turkish) revised its plan of action originally set out in the emergency appeal to make the best use of available resources. Changes in the programme are reflected in the budget, which is attached herein. The original budget target CHF 2,384,000 was reduced to CHF 1,418,000. The operation has been extended for two months and will close on 31 December 2003. This operations update reports on activities carried out since 2 May 2003 in the context of the emergency appeal and a revised programme budget. Additional funds are still required to accommodate the planned activities. Reallocations from other emergency programme will be proposed to donors.

Operational developments

Over 170 people, many of them schoolchildren trapped in their dormitory, died in the earthquake in the Bingol area of southeastern Turkey. The effect of the earthquake, which took place on 1 May 2003 at 3:20 am with a magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter scale, was relatively isolated. Almost all dead and missing were discovered within three days. According to the official statistics 521 people were injured1. The worst single tragedy was the collapse of a primary boarding school, killing 85 children and one teacher. 115 children were rescued. The earthquake caused damage and injuries in Bingol and in surrounding towns and villages, including Celtiksuyu, Sancak and Cimenli, Goltepsi.

Turkish Red Crescent was rapid and efficient in its response to the earthquake in Bingol rushing relief materials there, including: tents and blankets, five tons of food, nine mobile kitchens (to serve 20,000 people a day), a field hospital with 50 beds and a mobile clinic, four ambulances and five generators. A team of 25 volunteers from Mus and Erzincan Branches was immediately deployed to the earthquake area to carry out search and rescue operations. Shortly after the earthquake, Turkish Red Crescent volunteers were on the disaster site providing water and food to the victims. Some 2,000 people were assisted and 1,000 food parcels were distributed on the first day.

The affected families were also provided with 700 hygiene and 400 baby food parcels from the Turkish Red Crescent emergency stocks. The National Society distributed over 3,000 pieces of clothing to families in need.

Relief activities in outlying villages as well as in the town of Bingol itself have now ended. Kizilay volunteers and staff deployed for the operation returned to their branches and efforts are made to integrate the lessons learned into ongoing programmes of the Red Crescent.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

Health and care

Objective 1. Provide psychosocial support to affected population :

Progress/Achievements: Psychosocial emergency response efforts of Turkish Red Crescent were initiated immediately starting from the first day of the earthquake with four professional personnel from the national society supported by two additional professional personnel from the Federation. Kizilay's psychosocia l efforts involved:

  • initial assessment;

  • distribution of brochures that included information about psychosocial effects of disasters to survivors and other beneficiaries, who were contacted in the regions where Kizilay food distributions took place;

  • distribution of brochures that included information about psychosocial effects of working in disaster relief operations and ways of helping each other to cope with them to search and rescue workers, Kizilay staff and staff of the Bingol State Hospital as well as other workers;

  • giving psychosocial first aid to the affected population, especially children, who have been rescued from the ruins of the school; identifying individuals who need further support and referring them to the professional organisations and ins titutions that are giving psychosocial support in the region.

Following the earthquake, Turkish Red Crescent provided psychological support to 5,542 adults, children and rescue workers. The focus was on encouraging community participation to promote self-reliance among the victims of the earthquake so that people could then get back to their daily routine and rebuild their lives. Over 4,000 brochures have been distributed to the earthquake affected population to help them cope with the trauma and stress caused by the disaster.

Following the first intervention, the next phase of programming is to integrate the psycho-social into Kizilay branch development. This will be achieved by training of Branch staff in psychosocial methodology, mapping local resources, assessing needs of local communities and education on self-help though information and dissemination.

Objective 2. Provide equipment and medical supplies to the affected area:

Progress/Achievements: The initial plan of action envisioned deployment of an international emergency response unit (ERU) to the disaster affected area. However, the assessment conducted later by a consultant from the German Red Cross found this would not be necessary as all the emergency health needs had been covered with nationally available resources. Therefore the funds projected for the ERU in the original appeal will no longer be sought. This change is reflected in the revised budget, which is attached herein.

The existing health facilities in the region offered effective support to the target population. Over 300 people were provided with first aid by the Turkish Red Crescent field hospital and a mobile clinic. The referral system worked well and patients were transferred to hospitals in the surrounding towns without delay. Outbreak of disaster related health epidemics was not recorded.

Relief distribution of food and basic non-food items

Objective 1. Provide hot meals to 60,000 persons for one month:

Progress/Achievements: Shortly after the earthquake, the Turkish Red Crescent Society set up a mobile kitchen in the disaster affected villages to serve two hot meals a day - soup in the morning followed by rice, beans and bread in the afternoon - to all families in need. The service was provided to residents in the centre of Bingol too. On average, 6,000 to 7,000 people were served hot meals each day. Prepared in a mobile kitchen site by 15 cooks, the food was carried to fixed distribution points twice day.

Kizilay's strength comes from the fact that it is the only community-based organisation with international backing. After meeting the immediate needs of the population straight after the disaster, such as providing sheltering and hot meals, Kizilay continued to assist the people, with the focus on supporting people to help themselves. With that in mind, the hot meal distribution was transformed into dry food distribution, to encourage people to return to their normal routine. Kizilay, focusing on minimising the effects of the earthquake, joined the American Red Cross to provide dry food packages for 9,000 of the families most affected by the disaster. When these food packages were distributed, they were accompanied by two public information brochures that mainly contained community disaster preparedness tips to increase the chances of surviving another tremor, minimise the damage and reduce fear. Community leaders (Muhtars) and the volunteers offered great support during the relief distribution process. Muhtars provided information to relief workers and arranged for the beneficiaries to be transported to the distribution points. In the meantime, young and enthusiastic Kizilay volunteers from the local community supported the relief activities, unloaded the trucks and distributed the relief items and information brochures.

The original plan included procurement of food commodities, but the food needs of affected communities were covered by the Government and partner organisations. Therefore, these items were taken out from the budget too.

Objective 2. Procure mobile kitchen:

Progress/Achievements: Discussions are ongoing with the national society on the specifications of mobile kitchen units that will be procured within the emergency appeal. Tender will be put out this week to procure three to two units depending on prices and availability of resources. The mobile kitchens will allow the Turkish Red Crescent to provide hot meals to affected populations during future disasters.


Objective 1. Replenish 5,000 tents and 30,000 blankets:

Progress/Achievements: The Turkish Red Crescent distributed over 14,000 tents and more than 18,000 blankets to people affected by the disaster. As the population showed preference for living close to their homes, as opposed to moving to tent camps, the tents were distributed to individual families, who feared to return to damaged houses.

One of the important components of the emergency appeal was to replenish the Turkish Red Crescent stocks to enable a timely, effective and efficient response to needs of potential disaster victims. Recalling the two earthquakes of 1999 in the west of the country, killing nearly 20,000 people and given Turkey's proneness to such disasters, this was critical. However, considering low response to the appeal, and the fact that some donors were reluctant to see their contribution used for replenishment, the national society prioritized its needs and adjusted the original plan. The Federation will be able now to assist the national society to procure materials for the production of 3,400 tents2. This will be less cost effective, but more sustainable solution with the resources available and also bearing in mind that tents have their life expectancy and must be used within a certain period of time.

Disaster Preparedness

Objective 1. Strengthen the disas ter management capacity of the Turkish Red Crescent Society:

Progress/Achievements: The focus is on strengthening the disaster management capacity of Turkish Red Crescent branches in Bingol and Diyarbakir, which have been identified based on the analysis of their capacities and strategic location. This will be achieved through training in different areas - first aid, monitoring, reporting, developing international standards and tools in disaster management. The plan of action also envisages the development of two zonal disaster centres. Federation delegate will assist the national society in achieving the objective to ensure rapid response and efficient coordination in times of emergencies.

Federation coordination

As emergency relief aid flowed into the affected area to cover the existing needs, coordination of efforts between various humanitarian actors was crucial to ensure effective response to the disaster. Federation and the Turkish Red Crescent Society worked in partnership with government authorities, United Nations agencies and other NGOs as part of a coordinated effort to confront the humanitarian challenges caused by the earthquake. Regular meetings were held with government authorities and other humanitarian actors operating in the earthquake area to ensure effective support to victims of the disaster while maintaining their neutral and independent role.

The Turkish Red Crescent maintained close working relationship with delegations of the sister National Societies present in the country to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure the resources are deployed where the most needed. The Iranian Red Crescent provided 300 tents through the Kizilay to the people who needed shelter. The American Red Cross supported the Turkish Red Crescent to provide food security and relief supplies to up to 9,000 families (approximately 58,500 people with an average household size of 6,5) affected by the earthquake and to restock for future disasters. 9,000 families received supplemental dry food packages for one month.

Good relationships between the components of the Movement helped to achieve positive positioning of the local Red Crescent Society with the government and other humanitarian agencies. Psychosocial support was provided in close cooperation and coordination with the UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, which also deployed medical teams in the disaster affected area. The Turkish Red Crescent was a member of the Crisis Centre established at the Provincial Governor's office shortly after the disaster struck the area.

The Red Crescent volunteer base is seen as a unique force by many external institutions who seek partnership. A vivid illustration of this was the effective co-operation between the Turkish Red Crescent and other national nongovernmental organisations, local communities, business institutions and private enterprises donating food and other relief items to Kizilay for the distribution to the earthquake victims. Over 111 tons of food collected locally were distributed through the Turkish Red Crescent.

National Society Capacity Building

The national society demonstrated a high degree of professionalism in its response to the Bingol earthquake. While the focus was the emergency relief effort, the operation provided valuable learning and growth opportunities for the Red Crescent Society in Turkey. Capacities of people at the national society strengthened as management were exposed to new operational methods, requiring rapid decision-making and intense multi-actor coordination. Staff and volunteers benefited from on-the-job learning. Lessons learned are being analysed and will be integrated into ongoing Red Crescent programmes.

Communications - Advocacy and Public Information

The Turkish Red Crescent and the Federation were constantly in touch with representatives of international and national media disseminating information on the needs of affected population and Kizilay response operation. A number of articles were published in the local newspapers. Several stories about Red Crescent work in the disaster affected area were posted on the Federation's web page. The Federation/Turkish Red Crescent information team gave few live and pre-recorded interviews on the impacts of the earthquake and the relief efforts undertaken by the Kizilay in response to the disaster. Noteworthy was the active participation of the National Society in the work with national and international media. Immediately after the disaster occurred, the Federation information delegate and information officer left for the earthquake aff ected area. The Federation information team was joined by a representative from the national society's international relations department. This has proved to be an excellent opportunity for the National Society to learn from practice through direct participation in the response operation which led to appreciation by the National Society of the importance of communication and effective information sharing. A comprehensive evaluation of the Red Crescent response to media requests and coverage was carried out jointly by the Federation and the Turkish Red Crescent information departments, which will build a solid foundation for future effective response.

The vast majority of deaths and injuries in earthquakes in Turkey are caused by the collapse of unsafe buildings, such as the dormitory building in Bingol in which 85 children and a teacher died. For this reason the Federation construction programme in Turkey has focused on earthquake resistant designs, especially in the building of hospitals, schools and community centres in the provinces that are vulnerable to earthquakes. At the same time, the Federation has been promoting the internationally recognized guidelines for the seismic safety of buildings and disseminating the seismic techniques used during the reh abilitation process. To build on this, the Federation, together with the appropriate authorities and institutions, will organise a 'Seismic Safety of Buildings' workshop in September 2003, to exchange information and practical experiences with government building control officials, consultants, researchers, insurance businesses and others in the professional sphere. Although there seem to be no fail-safe solutions to deal with the earthquakes that routinely strike Turkey, the Federation aims to promote the notion of seismic structural stability of buildings and infrastructure and thus better protect vulnerable people in the event of future disasters.

For further information please contact:

  • Turkish Red Crescent Society, email: tkd@kizilay.org.tr, phone: 90 312 4302300; fax: 90 312 430 0175
  • Carl Naucler, head of regional delegation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Turkey and Southern Caucasus, email: ifrctr06@ifrc.org phone: 90 312 441 42 92 fax: 90 312 441 38 66
  • Sylvie Chevalley, regional officer, Europe department, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva, email: sylvie.chevalley@ifrc.org phone: 41 22 730 4276; fax: 41 22 733 03 95;

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org

Annex 1

APPEAL No. 09/2003
Turkey - earthquake in Bingol
Blankets: 30,000
Food supplies
Medical & first aid (WHO kit)
Hospital / clinic support
Mobile kitchens
Other relief supplies
Programme support (6.5% of total)
Miscellaneous equipment
Transport and storage
Expatriate staff (incl. psycho. support)
National staff (incl. psycho. support)
Travel & related expenses
Information expenses
Administrative & general expenses
External workshops & training


1 Note: figures from the Crisis Centre at the Governorate of the Province of Bingol.

2 The national society tent factory in Ankara has a production capacity of some 600 tents a week.