The Power of Solidarity in Disaster Management

İbrahim Özer
Turkish Red Crescent, Director General of Disaster Management and Climate Change

As a result of the increase in economic, sociological, environmental, and physical vulnerabilities in today’s world, disasters have started to occur more frequently, especially in developing countries. Due to many various types of disasters, it can be seen that both the death toll and the number of people affected are high in Türkiye.

Given the nature of disasters and their long-term effects on people, one thing is certain: the cooperation of all segments of society can help minimize damages. Individuals and the private sector also have crucial roles in disaster preparedness, as well as institutions and organizations. 

The Turkish Red Crescent has set the course for disasters as “concentrating on risk reduction studies and building a disaster-resilient society.” It is not achievable to eliminate all the impacts of a disaster. However, we can reduce them with the help of disaster management strategies, joint implementations, knowledge and experience, preparedness plans, and efforts to increase social resilience.

With the new organizational structure for disaster management, which has been in place since 2022, activities are carried out in the context of risk reduction and preparedness, effective and timely response, and recovery. The goal is to make society resilient and prepared for disasters by conducting all processes of disasters in close coordination with internal and external stakeholders. Based on this approach, TRC has moved into the Community-Based Integrated Disaster Management System within the scope of the 2021-2030 Strategic Plan. 

With the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Risk Reduction in 2015 in Japan, which is valid between 2015 and 2030, the goal is to achieve the following: “substantially reduce the disaster risk and the loss of safety, livelihood, health and economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of individuals, businesses, communities, and countries due to disasters.” To increase social disaster resilience and raise awareness about the correct behavior in disasters, we provide Disasters and Disaster Prevention Awareness Training Programs and develop projects on “investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience,” which is one of the priorities for action within the scope of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. In this context, we try to extend awareness of disaster resilience by signing cooperation protocols with various institutions, organizations, the private sector, and NGOs.

TRC makes necessary contributions to the Türkiye Post-Disaster Recovery Plan (TASIP) prepared by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and to one of the priorities for action within the scope of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is “enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to ‘Building Back Better’ in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.” 

TRC Disaster Response Plan (KAMP), which coordinates and mobilizes all TRC departments with the same reflex, has been established to carry out disaster response as per international standards. Thanks to this plan, all structures of TRC were transformed so that they would take part in their fields in case of a disaster. 

“Disaster Coordination Teams (AKT),” defined as special pioneering units within the General Directorate of Disaster Management and Climate Change, were selected from well-equipped personnel that arrive in the field very quickly and control the field immediately in case of a disaster. To provide qualified support to search and rescue operations, we formed a light urban search and rescue team (KIZILAY-SAR) and brought the accreditation process to completion after the training provided by AFAD.

Based on the Nutrition Strategic Plan (BSP), activities were completed in 81 provinces to identify the existing potential and resources at the local level and to coordinate the response action with the local capacities. An accreditation document on nutrition was prepared and published within the scope of the Regulation on the Determination of Service Standards and Accreditation Principles for Disasters and Emergencies.

In the context of innovation activities, efforts continue to establish a decision support system that optimizes personnel, equipment, and workforce in disasters and records all processes in disaster response.  TRC aims to have a systematic structure that contains the mobility of all its elements within the scope of disaster preparedness and response with the help of this AI-based decision support mechanism called “KAYS.”

Since AFAD declared 2022 as the “Disaster Exercise Year,” TRC conducted 15 internal disaster exercises and participated in 230 external and 12 “Civil-Military Cooperation” exercises.

Considering the disasters that occurred in Türkiye in 2022, we can observe the impacts of climate change, which has come into the picture due to global warming. We frequently experienced disasters such as heavy snowfall, floods/floodings, and fires in 2022. A total of 272 disaster and emergency response activities were carried out against these natural and human-related disasters. Within the framework of the response action, TRC has been operating in many areas, particularly nutrition, of which it is the main solution partner, out of the working groups in the Türkiye’s Disaster Response Plan. As a result of these efforts, we reached 678,725 people. The number of people reached by disaster type is presented in detail in the table below:

TypeDisaster(s)People Reached
Search and Rescue Operations1327,197
Heavy Snowfalls157355,206
Urban/ Forest Fires4537,402
Chemical, Biological, Nuclear Accidents1550
Mining Accidents14,000
Industrial Accidents2250
Wars/Mobilizations 119,500
Terrorist Incidents11,000
Transport Accidents75,439

Response, recovery, nutrition, humanitarian aid, reporting, observation, and research activities were carried out in 157 heavy snowfalls, especially in Istanbul and Bolu, with the help of 2,477 personnel and volunteers. Thirty-seven floods/floodings occurred in 2022, especially in Kastamonu, Bartın, and Bolu, and nutrition, humanitarian aid, and psychosocial services were provided to people affected and personnel responding. As a result of the services, 197,761 people were reached. The number of personnel and volunteers assigned by disaster type is presented in detail in the table below:

Search and Rescue Operations5632
Heavy Snowfalls1,1761,301
Urban/ Forest Fires200378
Chemical, Biological, Nuclear Accidents31
Mining Accidents5555
Industrial Accidents47
Wars/Mobilizations 630
Terrorist Incidents3749
Transport Accidents3130

We aim to reach all segments of society to raise people’s awareness of disasters through knowledge, innovation, and education. Reducing the possible effects of disasters will only be possible through successful disaster risk management and increasing social resilience against disasters.

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