How safer and more resilient schools withstood the earthquakes in Türkiye

Source(s): World Bank, the
Turkish schoolgirls in uniform walking in a street
Oleg Kozlov/Shutterstock
  • Since 2017, 57 schools have been built by the Turkish Ministry of National Education to be safer and more resilient to disaster, with support from the World Bank, GFDRR and the EU.
  • 24 of these schools are located in areas affected by the February 2023 earthquakes and aftershocks and all withstood the disaster.
  • Over 40,000 people now have access to safer and resilient schools as a result of the Turkish Ministry of National Education’s partnership on safer schools with the World Bank, GFDRR and the EU.

It has been about four months since Türkiye was hit by two very large earthquakes of magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 on February 6, 2023, followed by thousands of aftershocks and another strong earthquake of magnitude 6.7 on February 20, 2023.

The earthquakes inflicted the heaviest damages in 11 provinces in southern Türkiye, home to 14 million Turkish citizens, representing 16% of the country’s population, and 1.8 million Syrian refugees.

The World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)’s rapid damage assessment report using the Global Rapid Post-Disaster Damage Estimation (GRADE) methodology estimated $34.2 billion in initial direct physical damages, with the Turkish government and partners estimating recovery and reconstruction costs to exceed $81 billion. Around 5% of the 20,000 education buildings in the earthquake-affected areas collapsed, or were either severely or moderately damaged.

As recovery and reconstruction efforts continue apace, an inspiring story is emerging of how Türkiye’s partnership with the World Bank, GFDRR and the European Union (EU) played its part in ensuring that recently constructed schools withstood what has now become the deadliest earthquake disaster in the country’s modern history.

Since 2017, with support from the World Bank and GFDRR, as well as the European Union through its Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRiT), Türkiye’s Ministry of National Education has built 57 schools, representing over 1,400 classrooms, based on Türkiye’s latest seismic code which was updated in 2018 in accordance with international earthquake engineering standards. These efforts have been undertaken under the auspices of the Education Infrastructure for Resilience Project.

Every single one of the 24 schools located in areas affected by the February 2023 earthquakes and aftershocks survived. Fortunately, the earthquakes struck outside of school hours, which also contributed to saving the lives of students and educators.

“Most of the parents came to look at the school. They saw that there is not even the smallest crack or plaster crack in our school. We continue our educational activities seamlessly where we left before the earthquake,” said Murat Çiçekdal, School Manager for the Martyr Ercan Sanca Primary School.

Among the 24 schools in affected areas, four schools, which are located in Kahramanmaraş province, have been used by the Turkish government to provide temporary shelters. These same schools have also been used by the government for the provision of vital services for affected populations.

Across Türkiye, it is estimated that over 40,000 people now have access to safer and resilient schools as a result of the Ministry of National Education’s initiative on safer schools, supported under the Education Infrastructure for Resilience Project. Roughly half of the beneficiaries are estimated to be female.

In addition to seismic safety, each of the 57 schools built through this project also complied with Turkish codes and regulations on land use planning, energy efficiency, fire protection, workplace safety, and access for people with disabilities. The end result has been a safer and better learning environment for students and trainees.

Determined to ensure the resilience of its education infrastructure in one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, Türkiye has been a leader in the safer schools agenda. Since 2015, Türkiye has partnered with the World Bank and GFDRR, including through the Global Program for Safer Schools (GPSS),  on ensuring that schools across the country are safer and more resilient to disaster.

In the context of the Education Infrastructure for Resilience Project and the Disaster Risk Management in Schools Project, GFDRR, in particular, has connected the Turkish government with international experiences on safer schools, helped established a program on reducing seismic risk, and supported the expansion of disaster-resilient education infrastructure.

Looking ahead, the World Bank and GFDRR will remain steadfast in supporting Türkiye as it strives to rebuild and recover in the aftermath of the devastation, while also continuing to lay the groundwork for a more resilient future.

“We experienced horror, but we are still grateful that we are alive, our kids are alive,” said Kübra Çetinkaya, a survivor from the disaster.

Please note: Content is displayed as last posted by a PreventionWeb community member or editor. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of UNDRR, PreventionWeb, or its sponsors. See our terms of use

Is this page useful?

Yes No Report an issue on this page

Thank you. If you have 2 minutes, we would benefit from additional feedback (link opens in a new window).