Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Since the outset of the conflict in March 2011, an increasing number of refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic have sought asylum in Turkey. The escalation of violence in Syria in 2012 and onwards created dramatic increases in humanitarian needs. From the outset of the conflict, the Republic of Turkey, with its historic, cultural, and neighborhood ties, followed an open door policy to refugees. Turkey is currently hosting 220,000 Syrian citizens in 22 sheltering centers in 10 provinces and approximately 1.4 million Syrian citizens, who have moved to various provinces in Turkey, live outside the sheltering centers. These Syrians are composed of particularly women, children, and the elderly who require support in many areas such as protection, nutrition, clothing, sanitation, safety, health, and social needs. The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey, AFAD, required and aimed to develop a high standard for the construction and management of sheltering centers by developing software systems, projects, and new applications in order to meet all humanitarian needs of these individuals.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
In order to provide various basic services in accordance with the Geneva Convention to Syrian guests, it was necessary to enable the utilization of the resources of the country and the coordinated cooperation of many public institutions and organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and universities, and the private sector in the country. Various steps have been taken by AFAD in order to ensure more effective and efficient coordination. The main system developed for the management of the sheltering centers is called the AFKEN Project which stands for “The Sheltering Center Management System” in Turkish. The Purpose of AFKEN Project; The purpose of the AFKEN Project is monitoring and governance of the management of temporary settlements such as container cities or tent cities that will be built for citizens to be sheltered temporarily, from the AFAD center in the Geographic Information Systems under the integration infrastructure following disaster and emergency situations that may occur in Turkey. System Modules - Access-Authorization - Disaster victims (Refugees) Procedures - City monitoring - Safety of City Procedures - Aid-Money Procedures - Storage Procedures - Management of Personnel - Reporting Module Capability of the System Procedures such as disaster victim procedures (Described as Refugees Procedures for our Syrian guests) module and registration procedures regarding the disaster victims in sheltering centers, interview procedures, family backgrounds, settlement information, education health information, entry and exit and permission procedures for sheltering centers, transfer procedures between sheltering centers, material intake of the storages that belong to sheltering centers and their distribution to the disaster victims, event lists for the safety of the sheltering center and visitor follow-up, and management of personnel are all electronically registered and reported.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Disaster Temporary City Management software is an application that can manage the sheltering centers where Syrian guests stay and there is no similar structure in sheltering centers and refugee camps built in other regions. Therefore, the AFKEN Project is considered to be a first regarding the management of sheltering center. With this software, demographic information about refugees and foreigners who have come to Turkey for shelter is maintained and provides the integration of biometric data with identity number and hence repeated data is prevented. Based on these records, in cash and kind help, settlement inside the sheltering center, sheltering center entry and exit follow-up, instant census, sanitation and education services are regularly provided and controlled, and statistics regarding the procedures can be obtained and reported.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
When significant population movements from Syria to Turkey occurred, due to the necessity of important and emergency services, AFAD reviewed its institutional resources and performed analyses on the areas it required assistance, and the approach required to be adopted in providing services to the Syrians. After conducting the institutional analysis, AFAD developed the IT infrastructure, software, and hardware required for the purpose of providing orderly services to Syrian guests. A team consisting of software experts introduced the work flows and requirements by performing analyses in the first sheltering centers opened. The software that is necessary to form an integrated system that can respond the requirement of more than one sheltering center was formed. In order to provide the sheltering centers safe communication with the AFAD Center and to help all the locations work in harmony with each other, a closed circuit communication infrastructure was established. When the software development process was completed, it began to be applied in the new Adana Sarıçam sheltering center as a pilot software. The development process was performed by the software team working in this sheltering center in consideration of the demands of the last users. Approximately two years later, the software began to be used in other camps. Later, the record that was taken by Turkish National Police in the sheltering centers built before was transferred to the AFKEN application and therefore the software was made available for all sheltering centers.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
- During programming, the software infrastructure of the AFKEN project was developed together with MAVİNCİ, a software development company, and it was used in the temporary protection centers. Cooperation was established with the Turkish Red Crescent and other NGOs during implementation. - Cooperation was established with the World Food Program (WFP) in the Food Card application. -“Communication and Imaging Vehicles” and “Mobile Coordination Semi-Trailers” were projected and implementation was initiated in coordination with UNHCR. TRUCKS used as Mobile Coordination Centers were equipped with the necessary infrastructure so as to be used in case of emergency situations. The application was made usable everywhere with mobile communication vehicles through a web interface. -For the evaluation of international aid for the Syrian guests living in and outside protection centers and for the purpose of its planned distribution, cooperation was initiated with many UN organizations such as UNCHR, UNICEF, OCHA, IOM, and UNFPA. -While developing the system, governorships, district governorships, and local management forming the camp management personnel contributed to the system. In particular, the local authorities had a significant role in the maintenance of the system. -The personnel and managers that would play a role in the sheltering centers were trained on the use of the software. Furthermore, the trainers who would train the personnel that would participate were trained. Under our directorate, the Information System Department, a department for assistance, in which software development team and support team were involved, was established. The assistance department supports the last users by means of email and telephone. -The system is being used by the local management personnel, safety personnel, and our Directorate’s personnel in sheltering centers. Data entry is the responsibility of the personnel using the admission modules, entry-exit modules, permission modules, in cash and kind modules, and personnel and training modules in the sheltering centers. Data entered is used by the personnel related to the camp management in all kinds of work and procedures. Moreover, our Directorate and local authorities can access the statistical reporting about the data entered. There are many of reporting screens on the system.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
AFAD’s budget was used to develop the AFKEN application. Approximately 1 million dollars were spent forming the technical infrastructure. Most of this amount formed the communication infrastructure in the field. While developing the application, Mavinci Company and a team consisting of 14 AFAD personnel participated. The cost of the software development process is approximately 200 thousand usdollars.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
- Syrian guests entering Turkey are registered in a more orderly and transparent manner. - The aid provided to the registered guests is distributed over the system; and the process is performed in a more orderly and fair manner. - Resources began to be utilized more efficiently and also Syrian guests adapted in an easier manner to their normal lives as they could prepare their own food. They also adapted to living in Turkey more rapidly. - All institutions and organizations associated with the population movements in Turkey operated together with a holistic approach under the coordination of AFAD. -The management of the sheltering centers was facilitated by obtaining instant information and reports on the necessary regulations and responses were provided. In addition, local and center authorities can access the system and obtain instant reports and can follow the procedures through the web interface. -Those with special needs in the sheltering centers were able to be identified and their needs were met. Additionally, the procedures that must be followed such those for school age children or those who require vaccination were reported through the system.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Even though the sudden intense population movements encountered by Turkey have caused social and economic hardships, it has ensured that necessary emergency response measures are structurally taken. The incident that has been going on for approximately three years has been a serious element for us in reviewing our practices in economic, social, and psychological respects and performing necessary arrangements in the system. However, the magnitude of the event and the failure to anticipate it in terms of time has been accompanied by various troubles. The troubles experienced in the systems throughout the process have been observed, and they have been rapidly resolved. On the other hand, the constant increase of the population has urged the enhancement of the structural resources and quality of services necessary. Planning, recovery, and active responses have also rendered the operation necessary by considering the great benefits of Syrian guests both living in and outside the sheltering centers. The feedback of these efforts has been obtained through surveys and interviews conducted by AFAD personnel in the field with those living in and outside the sheltering centers covering the various service issues such as health, protection, psychological status, satisfaction, and security.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
At the time there was a need for these systems to provide better quality service to Syrian guests; the primary problems were the necessary resources and the IT infrastructure. The primary resource required was human resources. With new employment policies in the past two and a half years, our institution has overcome this deficiency. The other most important resource was monetary resources. When performing humanitarian and financial planning, AFAD developed its budget by taking Syrian guests into consideration, and it has also taken the necessary measures. In addition, contact was established with national and international organizations for some activities, new resources were discovered, and partnerships were established. Sponsorships, were received in accordance with needs. After the problem concerning resources was overcome, for the purpose of establishing the required IT infrastructure, such systems were established and implemented by AFAD personnel and through service procurement, when necessary.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
- With the developed systems, Syrian guests were rapidly registered and settled in the protection centers. Those living outside protection centers were rapidly registered, and did not encounter difficulties in accessing services. - Institutions and organizations were provided the opportunity to operate with a more effective and coordinated system. - Monitoring of provided aid was ensured to be carried out over the system. - The established sheltering centers were enabled to be managed more professionally from a single center. - A survey was performed on Syrian guests living in and outside protection centers for the purpose of determining the outcomes of all these efforts and assessing the satisfaction of Syrian guests living in and outside sheltering centers and personnel working in sheltering centers. As a result of this survey, it was observed that they stated that they were satisfied with the overall services provided, and they could access provided services easily.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
After the Syrian crisis that erupted two and a half years ago, AFAD did not act indifferently to the population movements to Turkey, and urgently established protection centers. Emergency needs were immediately addressed. The unanticipated magnitude of the incident and the uncertainty of the process encouraged the establishment of new protection centers and the provision of news services over time. These systems began to be used in the process at the newly established protection centers, and our institutional budget was planned accordingly; initiatives strengthening the social and cultural bonds of both societies were taken. A new area of employment was created in the provinces where protection centers were located, and the cooperation of public institutions and organizations was ensured and emerging problems were resolved over time. Newly established protection centers provide service with an approach that prioritizes a rapid and fair manner. With these systems, the execution of services in a sounder manner was ensured as coordination between institutions and organizations was facilitated. Acquired experiences, developed projects, and implemented systems are in a condition enabling them to be used in any disaster or emergency that may occur in Turkey or the world. As a result of efforts made, with its corporate identity, AFAD constructed protection shelters, which were unprecedented in the international arena, and has developed containers, prefabricated structures, mobile vehicles, and all other resources at a maximum level. It possesses all the logistics required prior to, during, and after disasters and during an incident, it shall be deployed to the field with all its teams. The AFKEN application is being used in sheltering centers where Syrian guests in Turkey live. However, the purpose of the AFKEN application in general is the management of tent cities or container cities after a possible disaster or emergency situation. Therefore this software can be used to manage the similar situations in Turkey or anywhere else in the world. English version of the application has been designed considering that it can be used in an international field. If needed, it can be translated into another language, and it takes less than a day to install it in another language.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The greatest advantage of this system is that in general it has been developed in a manner covering all probable disasters and emergencies. The most important feature of the system and applications is that it was developed not only for the Syrian refugees, but at the same time that it is able to gather all institutions and organizations under one unit of coordination and easily actualize an integral disaster management system in all sorts of disasters and emergencies that may occur in Turkey and throughout the world. The factors that need to be considered in services provided to Syrian guests in the population movements to Turkey include the quality of services, and access to services, which are all substantially important. For the purpose of increasing efficiency at the utmost level, all necessary analyses have been conducted and continue to be performed. All matters required for the purpose of performing coordination, which is the institutional duty of AFAD, in a more professional manner in the event of any disaster in Turkey have been noted. Syrian guests have been provided with services appropriate for human rights and dignity, and intercultural interaction opportunities. With the experiences acquired during the provision of better quality services to the Syrian guests seeking refuge in Turkey due to the turmoil in Syria, AFAD has better understood how to successfully overcome disasters or emergencies that may be experienced in the future. We have established the necessary IT infrastructure and developed all the necessary systems required for providing better quality services to disaster victims in any disaster or emergency to occur in Turkey. Due to all these services implemented over the course of approximately four years, AFAD has worked with many NGOs at a national and international level. It has acquired ample experience by working with international networks, particularly many organizations of the UN. AFAD is prepared to use its experience and logistic support in all disasters and emergencies that may occur in Turkey and around the world.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Esra HACIALIOGLU
Title:   Head of Foreign Affairs Working Group  
Telephone/ Fax:   00905433419062
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Kızılırmak Mah. Ufuk Univ. Cad. no:12 Cukurambar Cankaya
Postal Code:  
City:   Ankara

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