In December 2021, DG ECHO Commissioner Lenarčič together with our Secretary-General, Jagan Chapagain announced an additional €325 million to extend the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) programme addressing the basic needs of refugee populations until 20231. Parallel communication was made on the ESSN transition towards development assistance so that it will be funded by DG NEAR through the Ministry of Family and Social Services, and implemented by Turkish Red Crescent (TRC).
The transition process will enhance the ESSN while progressively emphasizing on the transition to Socio-Economic Development programming.
Enhancing the ESSN
Within 2020-2022, IFRC-TRC provided a total of 10 billion TRY to 1.6 million vulnerable refugees. Provided the worsening economic climate, on May 2022, IFRC and the Turkish Red Crescent introduced programmatic adjustments to address the increasing vulnerabilities of the population:
- Targeting adjustment, increasing eligibility of smaller families with children impacting positively on exclusion error.
- Increasing the SASF quota to enable more vulnerable families, not meeting ESSN criteria, benefit from the program.
- Cash top up adjustment of 1,400 TRY to address the socio-economic hardship and contribute to the reduction of debt levels among beneficiaries.
Preparing the ESSN handover
During the second half of 2022, IFRC and TRC has worked with its partners on the parameters to guide the handover of ESSN program, under three key guiding principles:
- Ensuring the seamless and continuous delivery of core ESSN services
- Shared governance process among all stakeholders: DG ECHO, DG NEAR, MoFSS, TRC, and IFRC through the creation of a Steering Committee that will meet regularly to guide the handover.
- Synergies, insights and learning: deliberation on future directions for the ESSN will be informed by feedback and findings from M&E, research, and surveys; key lessons from other transition processes; and synergies between ESSN and C-ESSN.
Within the above principles, IFRC-TRC and its partners will prioritize the following:
- Planning:the handover will be planned well in advance and establish clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations for the transition.
- Communication:Effective communication is key to a smooth handover, ensuring that all necessary information is shared, and any potential issues are addressed in a timely manner.
- Transfer of knowledge and skills:IFRC will ensure that the MoFSS and TRC have the necessary knowledge and skills to take over the work from the IFRC.
- Documentation:Proper documentation is essential to ensure that the handover process is transparent and accountable.
- Monitoring and evaluation:The handover process will be monitored and evaluated regularly.
- Stronger emphasis on Socio-Economic Development
Hosting the world’s largest refugee population since 2011, Türkiye remains a major country of both destination and transit2. Amidst the protracted nature of the humanitarian context, IFRC-TRC are moving towards a nexus approach by which basic needs are covered while enabling social cohesion. Progress made in 2022 in this direction include:
- The completion of a Livelihoods Pathways Study to strengthen the ways in which ESSN connects to socioeconomic empowerment (SEE) opportunities and ultimately supports vulnerable families to transition away from basic assistance.
- Exploring partnerships and piloting initiatives with other humanitarian and government partners with the objective of expanding and diversifying Turkish Red Crescent work in socio-economic empowerment.
- Co-chairing the Task Team on Referral and Transition to Livelihoods Opportunities (under 3RP3) to provide technical recommendations to inform a transition process for individuals to access livelihoods opportunities.
- Increasing the number of referrals to TRC Community Based Programs, as well as to external stakeholders.
2022 started with the closure of our COVID-19 program and, unfortunately, ended with a new operation to support Ukrainian refugees displaced by the war and hosted in Türkiye.
In its COVID response, Turkish Red Crescent completed its support the Government of Turkey as per its auxiliary role by providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks and hygiene kits to health facilities and community members; conducting risk communication campaign to raise awareness on COVID-19, protective hygiene practices and vaccination; providing health and Psychosocial Support (PSS) activities; conducting blood services including production and distribution of convalescent plasma; and conducting livelihoods activities. By the end of 2021, thanks to the financial support of IFRC donors, TRC had reached a total of 16,122,811 people including refugees and host communities across Türkiye.
While I write this note, Turkish Red Crescent has already received financial support from IFRC to support the needs of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, focusing on the following areas:
- Health and Care throughmental health and psychosocial support and health promotion and disease prevention through community-based health and first aid.
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) through distribution of hygiene parcels and awareness raising on hygiene promotion
- Shelter and household supply through non-food item (NFI) distribution
- Multi-purpose cash (unconditional) to cover basic needs
- Protection, Gender and Inclusion including establishment of two Mobile Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) to support well-being and education of affected young adults and children; referrals to case management and accompaniment services.
In 2023, IFRC will focus its support to Turkish Red Crescent in ensuring a responsible ESSN transition, expanding and enhancing the socio-economic and social cohesion interventions and supporting the needs of Ukrainian refugees. But our cooperation goes beyond that as we will continue our capacity building work, leveraging TRC strengths to build the capacities of IFRC secretariat and membership and contributing to further expand TRC programs and development in areas such as disaster management, migration and climate change.
1. The ESSN provides more than 1.5 million refugees in Turkey with monthly cash transfers to cover their essential needs, it is implemented through a partnership between the IFRC, the Turkish Red Crescent and the Ministry of Family and Social Services. It is the biggest humanitarian programme in the history of the EU, and the world’s biggest humanitarian cash assistance programme.
2. People under temporary or international protection in Turkey
3. The Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan (3RP) is a strategic, coordination, planning, advocacy, fundraising, and programming platform for humanitarian and development partners to respond to the Syria crisis. More info: https://www.3rpsyriacrisis.org/