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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 Turkey: Evaluation of the Psycho-social Support Programs Implemented After the Van-Ercis Earthquake

Executive summary

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The 2011 Van-Erciş earthquakes and their catastrophic repercussions activated and mobilized numerous national and international institutions. The Ministry of Family and Social Policies (MoFSP), who holds the main responsibility for psychosocial support, implemented several intervention programs in collaboration with UNICEF in order to enable survivors of the earthquake to return, to a certain degree, to their normal lives.


The objective of this program was to re-establish a sense of control and to reduce the psychological impact of the disaster on children as well as adults. For this purpose, the first set of activities was directed towards teachers, to help them cope better, and thereby assist in re-establishing support activities for children. The second set of activities was directed towards the affected children, to help them and their families cope with the effects of the disaster.


The methodology and sample size were determined after an extensive desk review by the project team. The qualitative and quantitative methods were applied at the same time and all target groups were reached by carrying out online surveys, household questionnaires, in-depth interviews and focus group interviews. During the evaluation, specific attention was paid to vulnerable groups, particularly to children and women (for example, different sets of data collection modules were developed) in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Actions, and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The data collection period was approximately one month. During this period:

  • A household survey was conducted with 2235 persons.
  • A total of 49 ministry staff who were involved in the psychosocial programs were interviewed.
  • In-depth interviews were conducted with: 30 women who moved to outside of Van and Erciş; 30 local; and 11 local decision making authorities.
  • Focus group meetings were organized with children and representatives of the NGOs.

Findings and Conclusions:

Below are the major findings of the evaluation of the psychosocial support programs following the Van-Erciş earthquakes:

  • The intervention made during the acute phase was effective and had a positive impact on mitigating potential psychosocial problems.
  • The lack of coordination between governmental institutions had a negative impacton the sustainability of the support services. Inter-institutional coordination problems and confusion on roles and responsibilities among the relevant institutions limited the impact of the psychosocial support programs.
  • The lack of an effective and efficient monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system and insufficient levels of communication and coordination between the organizations had a negative impact on the overall satisfaction of the beneficiaries. M&E is a new area for most government organizations in Turkey. However, government organizations including the MoFSP have recently started to work on this topic and to build relevant capacity across the country.
  • The major aid organizations, especially the local ones, did not have sufficient human resources to provide post-earthquake psychosocial support services in Van. In addition to this, local authorities in Van and Erciş did not participate in the psychosocial response sufficiently, since they were also victims of the disaster, and this caused serious limitations to the support programs. Furthermore, ministry staff who took part in the psychosocial support programs had difficulties adapting to the culture of the region. This also had negative repercussions on the efficiency of the outcomes of the support programs.
  • Individuals who temporarily relocated to other provinces, with the help of institutions or by their own means, had some difficulties in meeting their needs. In addition, the relocation itself had a negative impact on their psychosocial recovery. It has been found that the strength of family ties in the community has a significant role in enabling the community to restore psychosocial well-being through moral support.  Therefore, relocation to other provinces, even though it was temporary, resulted in negative effects such as: deprivation of family members; disruption of normal life; anxiety; and difficulties with cultural adaptation.

Below are the recommendations drawn in order to avoid possible problems in future post-disaster intervention programs:

  • The MoFSP, as the main partner for providing psychosocial support programs during an integrated disaster management process, should provide coordination of psychosocial support activities and human resources from the ministry. They should also provide coordination among other providers of post-disaster psychosocial support programs, following the main principles and designated roles set out in the Turkey Disaster Intervention Plan.
  • Since the local psychosocial support personnel are likely themselves to be earthquake victims, the MoFSP should organize primary interventions with educated and experienced personnel from cities close by in order to overcome adaptation and organizational personnel problems.
  • A monitoring and evaluation system for psychosocial support activities should be set up under the coordination of the MoFSP and implemented in a timely manner. It should be in accordance with universal human rights and equality principles of postdisaster psychosocial intervention.

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