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New jobs for now: Supporting municipalities against the earthquake aftermath

“After the Earthquake, we were three families living in the same house because we needed to manage our expenses after we lost our jobs.” Fatih, a gardener and a participant in Cash for Work, Kaharamanmaraş

Posted on 26 Sep 2023

It has been over six months since the earthquake hit 11 provinces in Türkiye, affecting the lives of over ten million people. Since then, life has returned to normal in some provinces, but not all of them.

Many areas in Hatay are entirely destroyed, while Kaharamanmaraş, where the earthquake started, is still trying to stand on its feet again. Many companies and workplaces remain shut down and those still operating suffer from unemployment, which is further exacerbated by increasing living costs. 

In response to this situation, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) started implementing Cash for Work under the BRIDGES programme in June 2023. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Development Bank (KFW), Cash for Work provides short-term employment opportunities for refugees and host community members who are in vulnerable socio-economic situations.

This project is not new as DRC started implementing it years before the earthquake. Cash for Work has helped hundreds of people from refugee and host communities get temporary jobs in coordination with municipalities in Hatay, Şanliurfa, Kilis and Kahramanmaraş.

The main aim of the project is giving people the chance to be involved in the job market and gain experience. These days, there are more people in need of such temporary solutions. This is why we had to act.

/  Adel Mezrab, the Economic Recovery Manager (Sanliurfa and Kilis) at DRC.

DRC has a long-standing relationship with municipalities, providing support so they could hire additional staff to respond to the needs after the earthquakes and support displaced individuals.

Many displaced people in earthquake-affected Hatay were resettled in Reyhanlı, a small town at the Turkish-Syrian border, and the new influx into the town has created more pressure on the municipality to meet the increased needs.

As a result, DRC signed an agreement with the municipality to hire 75 people from both the host and refugee communities for different jobs. Ahmet is a Turkish participant who works now as a water truck driver to distribute water.

"It is not only about having an income. The job has also provided me a health insurance. It is good to feel stable for a while until there are jobs again.”

On the other hand, Zeynep is a Syrian participant working as a cleaner. She had been always a housewife, and this is her first time working.

“My husband could not find a job and encouraged me to apply for this project,” she said.

"I am happy that he pushed me outside my comfort zone because I feel integrated in the community, and I am aware how important it is for women to be contributors and provide income for their families."

The project also operates in earthquake-affected Karamanmaraş, and 120 people are currently working there in different types of jobs. Fatih, a Turkish beneficiary, is glad that he found a job because it can help him gain some income and stability before he reaches the retirement age, which is next October.

At that time, he will be able to receive his pension from the government.  

Fatih, a Turkish participant, is working as a gardener in Kahramanmaraş. Many people at his age face challenges in finding jobs.

Despite all that, there is still work to be done to support other vulnerable individuals in the aftermath of the earthquake.

DRC is expanding its activities to Şanliurfa and Kilis to provide solutions for communities until their lives can return to normal and they can stand on their feet again.  

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