After the earthquake in Türkiye, rural people need more support than ever

IFAD Asset Request Portlet

Asset Publisher

After the earthquake in Türkiye, rural people need more support than ever

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Collapsed buildings in the northeast of the city Osmaniye, Türkiye. © Airbus DS 2023

The heart-breaking images of the devastation caused by two massive earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye and northwest Syria in February are difficult to forget. In just a matter of minutes, entire neighbourhoods were turned to rubble and more than 50,000 people died in Türkiye alone. Today, an estimated 1.6 million people are living in temporary accommodations. The human tragedy is unimaginable.

While much of the devastation that was broadcast was concentrated in cities and urban areas, vulnerable people living in rural Türkiye are also suffering. Countless farming communities have lost their homes and livelihoods, including many IFAD participants.

Rural losses have serious implications for food security and livelihoods in the disaster zones and far beyond. The affected region contributes 9.8 per cent of Türkiye's GDP and approximately 17 per cent of the country's agricultural land lies within the 11 provinces affected by the earthquake – a serious blow to small-scale farmers and others employed in the agriculture sector.

Moreover, there are concerns that farmers might see themselves forced to leave their regions for more secure locations and stop cultivating. This, in turn, could increase food prices across the country at a time when people are already grappling with the soaring cost of living.

Among the most severely disrupted IFAD-funded projects is the Uplands Rural Development Project (URDP), which was implemented in 2017 to strengthen economic opportunities and resilience for small-scale farmers by integrating them into profitable clusters. In the wake of the earthquake, URDP participants need substantial investments if they are to resume their lives and achieve their development goals.

In response to the catastrophe, IFAD and the Türkiye Government decided to repurpose some of URDP funds to quickly develop a support package for over 200 of the worst-affected families. The package will help them sustain their livestock businesses with barns to shelter their sheep, tanks to provide water to their families and livestock and portable solar energy systems for electricity. Going forward our country team will continue supporting calls for funding and coordinated action, to provide short-term relief without compromising the mid- and long-term development objectives for the agriculture sector.

But much more support is needed. Across the affected provinces, the supply of agricultural inputs has been disrupted due to damaged shops and warehouses. With many livestock shelters destroyed, farmers need shelter, feed and veterinary assistance for their animals. They have also lost agricultural equipment so some local administrations are establishing communal areas where they can share machinery. As the weather becomes warmer and the rains begin to lessen, farmers will need help to repair damaged irrigation systems. Their livelihoods depend on it.

Getting agriculture and rural livelihoods back on track is a critical priority. As the rural people of Türkiye strive to rebuild, IFAD is working tirelessly with them to evaluate how our projects can shift towards supporting a sustainable recovery and not leave anyone behind.