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Life after the quakes

24 October 2023, Impact of Our Work

Türkiye’s long road to recovery 

“Water forms the base of human life. If there is no water, how are humans supposed to live?”  asks Esra.*

On 6 February Esra’s village was rocked by two earthquakes, nine hours apart. Measuring 7.6- and 7.7-magnitude in scale, these devastating earthquakes killed thousands and injured and displaced many more. Most of those who were displaced are still living in tents and struggling to meet their basic needs. 

Esra considers her family lucky. Many in her village in Türkiye lost their homes or their lives. While Esra continues to live in her home with her husband, son, daughter and grandchildren, the family are having to deal with the aftermath of the earthquakes in other ways. 

A long journey

Affording the essentials has become a challenge since the sole breadwinner of the family, Esra’s son, has been unable to continue his work as a driving instructor. In addition, debris from the earthquakes have left their village and home extremely dusty, forcing the family to pay extra attention to hygiene to avoid falling sick. However, the greatest challenge that Esra and her family have faced is access to clean water.

Esra’s 4-year-old grandson Cem* sums up the importance of water. “We need water for drinking [and] taking baths”  says Cem. 

In the days following the earthquakes, the family would fetch water from the mountains. However, not only was this method extremely time consuming, but the time of year meant the stream would often not have enough water. This left the family without water for days at a time. 
“We faced many hardships just so that we can ensure our hygiene,”  Esra explains, “sometimes we weren’t able to access water for three days straight and we went to other nearby villages that had water to take showers [and] clean our clothes.”

Esra, 63, and her four-year-old grandson, Cem, in front of the water tank installed
by Save the Children in their village in Türkiye.

Water for hygiene

Thanks to our generous supporters, and funding from the European Union,** Save the Children installed a water tank in Esra’s village to provide access to clean water for hygiene and sanitation needs. This water tank supplies everyone in the village with up to 30 litres of water per day.

“Now, we’re accessing water through [water] tanks. We’re able to keep [a] clean environment and take showers,”  says Esra. “Even now after around six months, water is accessible for very short periods during the day, so we appreciate the installation of the water tanks to access water for our rising daily water needs during the summer.”

Esra and Cem wash their hands using clean water from their village's water tank in Türkiye.

In addition to the water tank in Esra’s village, we’ve installed 12 water tanks in some of the most remote areas across the earthquake-affected regions in Türkiye. To help ensure communities can maintain their health and hygiene, we’re also installing showers and latrines, distributing hygiene kits and providing community awareness sessions on hygiene promotion to reduce the spread of disease. 

Looking forward

While Esra and her grandson Cem continue to face challenges in their daily life since the earthquakes, they maintain a determination to create a better future for themselves. 

What they envision is not a life of excess, but one in which their needs and rights are met. 

“We want to live in a place that’s in peace, clean, and comfortable. [Somewhere] where we can [maintain] our [basic] needs without being under pressure,”  says Esra.

“I’d like to live in a place full of flowers. If there was enough water, I’d go swimming. I wish there was a very big swimming pool,”  says Cem. 

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

**Save the Children’s program to install water tanks in some of the most hard-to-reach earthquake affected regions of Türkiye was supported by funding from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

Photos: Muhammet Necip Şağar/Save the Children.

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