Challenges Overcome in 2022 and Social Resilience: The Helping Hand of a Distant Friend

Yuko Tanaka
Chief Representative of JICA Türkiye Office

Türkiye and Japan are two countries with strong and longstanding relations in mutual assistance. For nearly a century, the Japanese Government has been providing both financial and technical support to strengthen the socio-economic development of the Republic of Türkiye. Türkiye is simultaneously continuing its economic and social progress while effectively addressing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and refugee influx. International cooperation holds a significant place in the sustainability of this development.

In this context, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) continually updates its areas of operation through periodic needs assessments to better align with the requirements and conditions of Türkiye. Capacity building programs in various areas, including urban infrastructure and environmental improvement, private sector development, disaster risk reduction and management, and intervention in the refugee crisis, are among the main areas of cooperation with Türkiye. 


JICA, in partnership with KOSGEB, has implemented the ‘Rapid Support for Micro and Small Businesses’ project in Türkiye to contribute to the country’s COVID-19 response. In addition to the 300 million USD support from the World Bank to help micro and small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic maintain their employment levels during the crisis, JICA has provided an additional 300 million USD in interest-free credit support.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management 

Türkiye and Japan, both being countries exposed to natural disasters and facing similar challenges, have notable cooperation and close collaboration, particularly in the areas of disaster preparedness and post-disaster response. JICA’s first activity in this regard dates back to 1959 when Japan invited Turkish participants for a disaster management course. In this context, JICA has continued to share experiences through numerous online seminars aiming to reach various segments of the community, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these seminars include the ‘Student Exchange Seminar Series’ organized between Turkish and Japanese middle and high school students from 2020 to 2022; the ‘Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness Seminar’ held in February 2022 for teachers in the EQUAL-IM Platform, as well as ‘Climate Change and its Effects on Türkiye Seminars’ conducted during the same period. In January 2022, JICA also organized a seminar on ‘Experience Sharing on Disaster Risk Reduction Activities for Societal Resilience’ with the participation of Japanese and Turkish NGOs. These seminars were conducted in collaboration with the Turkish-Japanese Foundation, JICA Alumni Association, and other Turkish and Japanese institutions and organizations.

With the Technical Cooperation Agreement signed between Türkiye and Japan coming into effect at the beginning of 2022, three technical cooperation projects have been signed with the aim of enhancing disaster risk management from various perspectives. The first of these projects is the ‘Capacity Building for Local Governments in Waste Management, Pollution Control, Disaster Management, and Response,’ which will be carried out in collaboration with the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye. The second project, ‘Establishment of a Research and Education Complex for Developing Disaster-Resilient Communities (MARTEST),’ will be implemented through the joint efforts of Turkish and Japanese universities, AFAD, Turkish Red Crescent, and various public, private, and civil society organizations. The third project is the ‘Capacity Building for Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Disaster Risk Management Master Plan,’ to be conducted in partnership with Bursa Metropolitan Municipality.

Syrians Under Temporary Protection and Migration

JICA collaborates with Türkiye in humanitarian crisis response and efforts to mitigate the impacts of such crises. In this context, JICA became the first international organization to provide credit support to municipalities in order to strengthen the infrastructure of provinces that provided temporary protection to a significant number of Syrians. The second credit agreement was signed in 2021, expanding the scope of support areas and target provinces. Both projects, with a total amount of 90 billion Japanese yen, are being closely coordinated with the State Planning Organization. Additionally, between 2016 and 2019, JICA supported the Ministry of Family and Social Services in identifying the needs of vulnerable Syrian individuals and families.

As is well known, Türkiye has been hosting the largest number of refugees globally for the past seven years. In addition to refugees, Türkiye also has a substantial foreign population, including residence permit holders. According to the Ministry of Interior, the total number of foreigners in Türkiye is approximately 5.2 million. Recent earthquakes have highlighted the importance of reducing the disaster risk for these foreigners and involving them in disaster response efforts. In November 2022, a webinar was organized with the participation of representatives and academics from AFAD and various NGOs, as well as Japanese NGOs, to share experiences and lessons learned in integrating foreigners into such processes.

In summary, JICA supports development and sustainability through multifaceted collaborations while aiming to maintain Japan’s active support for disaster risk reduction and management in the face of all kinds of natural and human-induced disasters that could hinder these efforts.

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