Water Quality in TurkeyWater quality in Turkey has not always been good. Located where Asia meets Europe, Turkey is not in an optimal location for water access. Over the years, Turkey has taken steps to improve its water quality.

According to the Environmental Performance Index, Turkey scored 85.06 out of 100 for water and sanitation quality. 100 percent of the population has access to improved water sources and sanitation, which has risen from 86 percent in 1990.

Turkey is a semi-arid region. Compared to water-rich regions such as North America and Western Europe, Turkey is lacking. Turkey only has one-fifth of the water available per capita that those areas do. Turkey also has areas that have an abundance of freshwater that is unusable, such as the Black Sea.

70 percent of Turkey’s usable freshwater is supplied by rivers, and the main ones that flow through Turkey are the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The water potential of the two rivers combined is close to that of the Nile River.

In 1993, Istanbul was facing a water and sanitation crisis. To solve this, Turkey began creating and implementing plans to meet the city’s water needs and improve its sanitation levels. As a result of these efforts, Istanbul’s water increased to 1,170 million m3 per year.

In 2016, Turkey defined 25 river basins and prepared protection plans for each of them. They put their Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs to work coordinating these plans.

The Southeastern Anatolia Project is an initiative that seeks to improve the water supply from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the land resources of “Upper Mesopotamia”, also known as the Fertile Crescent for its quality farmland. It has been a great success in improving the efficiency of water management in this key agricultural area.

Turkey has recognized the importance of protecting its water sources, especially since they are in short supply compared to many other nations. It continues to take steps towards maintaining optimal water quality in Turkey and improving the lives of its people.

Téa Franco

Photo: Flickr


The world’s first-ever World Humanitarian Summit took place May 23–24, 2016 in Istanbul. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the summit in 2012 after recognizing the need to reaffirm global responsibility of our shared humanity.

Since the original announcement, the need for the summit has become increasingly urgent. 125 million people around the world are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, according to Ban Ki-moon’s report for the World Humanitarian Summit last year.

The World Humanitarian Summit included over 9,000 people–a mix of world leaders, non-governmental organizations, people affected by crises and partners in the private sector and civil society.

Packed with roundtable discussions and events, the aim of The World Humanitarian Summit is to change the way the world responds to global issues by committing to a unified goal to end suffering.

The Agenda for Humanity outlines the five core responsibilities that the summit centered on:

  1. “Global leadership to prevent and end conflict.” The first core responsibility proposes responding quickly to crises and investing in risk analysis, political unity, and peace building to prevent conflicts from occurring. Manmade conflict accounts for 80 percent of humanitarian aid that is sent, according to the WHS Executive Summary Report. Investing in conflict prevention would save billions of dollars and lives.
  2. “Uphold the norms that safeguard humanity.” The second core responsibility addresses the need to recommit to rules of war and speak out against violations. When bombs or explosives are used in populated areas, 90 percent of people that are killed or injured are civilians, according to the WHS Executive Summary Report. This responsibility presents the launch of a global campaign to stop violations of the human rights law while investing in ways to increase adherence and accountability.
  3. “Leave no one behind.” The third core responsibility is dedicated to reaching everyone affected by crises, risk and vulnerability. According to the WHS Report, 60 million people are forcibly displaced, and there is a severe lack of funding in humanitarian aid. This responsibility commits to empowering marginalized groups, addressing displacement and supporting migrants.
  4. “Changing people’s lives – from delivering aid to ending need.” The fourth core responsibility is centered on shifting the priority from delivering aid to ending the need for aid. Reinforcing the idea that support should be drawn from within, this commitment advises employing local solutions and empowering local systems that already work instead of replacing them with international aid.
  5. “Invest in humanity.” The fifth core responsibility commits to political, institutional and financial investments in stability and local systems. It proposes to decrease the funding gap and improve the efficiency of aid. The World Humanitarian Summit comes at a critical time in history – a time when the U.N. estimates that the number of people displaced has not been as high since World War II.

In his WHS Report, Ki-Moon deliberately references The Declaration of St. James’s Palace in London in 1941, the first act toward the formation of the United Nations. At St. James’s Palace in London, governments came together to pledge a unified commitment to work toward peace. Ban acknowledges that 75 years later, it is time to renew that commitment to humanity.

Erica Rawles

Photo: Flickr

In the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul, which over 14 million people call home, there is a sense of progress and modernity. The city, the largest in Turkey, sits at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and claims thousands of years of history.

Istanbul is one of the more diverse cities in Turkey. It is home to not only Turks, but also Kurds, the Romani people and immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Africa. While the tourist and central areas seem modern, safe and progressive, there is another side of the city.

Poverty in Istanbul is pocketed. About an hour bus ride out of the central city, there are two neighborhoods that are some of Istanbul’s poorest and most violent: Gazi Mahallesi and Karayollari. The first, Gazi Mahallesi, is a multiethnic neighborhood. The neighborhood sports anti-government vandalism and leftover destruction from riots by anarchist, Kurdish and leftist groups that reside there.

Karayollari, separated from Gazi Mahallesi by a highway overpass, is a primarily Kurdish neighborhood. Many of the Kurds who call the neighborhood home have been displaced by the violence in southeastern Turkey, where Turkey’s Kurds are the most populous. Karayollari seems to be stuck in a cycle of violence, encouraged by poverty and unemployment. Residents say the police no longer even venture near the neighborhood unless to break up riots.

Because of rapid and unplanned migration to the city, 70 percent of housing in Istanbul was built in 30 years. At first, housing was built wherever land could be found. These settlements are Istanbul’s version of shantytowns or squatter towns and are called gacekondu. The gacekondu originally were accepted by the city because they passed the costs of urbanization from the government to the migrants. The gecekondus were the homes of the poorest migrants who found work in the industrial parts of Istanbul.

The make-shift neighborhoods were accepted as a solution to urbanization through 1980s, but are now being razed in an attempt modernize the city. Forced evictions have occurred, putting already poor families into the streets of sometimes violent, dangerous parts of Istanbul. Early last year, a group of 30 Roma families, previously evicted from their homes, was in danger of being forcibly evicted again, this time from their makeshift shack camp. The group included children and elderly persons. Amnesty International reported that the group was “living in conditions of extreme poverty since their forced eviction” and was “without access to…electricity, clean water and basic sanitation.”

Overall poverty in Turkey is a diminishing problem. Over the last ten years, the number of people living on less than $4.30 per day decreased from 20 million to 1.7 million. In Istanbul, the percent of people living in poverty has decreased 2.2 percent over the last eight years. The government claims that this reduction is due to government support programs to poorer citizens.

There is some contest as the whether the government’s attitude towards poverty and the poor can really lead to effective policy. Dr. Ebru Soytemel, of the Oxford Program for the Future of Cities, says that the “current government regards poverty as a temporary, individual problem that can be fixed, not a structural problem.They say that your religion or your family should provide you with help.”

Distribution of poverty is a problem for Turkey. While overall inequality has diminished, the distribution of poverty is a stark reminder of the discrepancies among living standards within the country. When looking at a map of regional poverty rates in Turkey, eastern regions, where most of Turkey’s ethnic minority groups live, are severely disadvantaged. Istanbul, which is the most western region of Turkey, is the most well off. Istanbul is a microcosm of this map: minority neighborhoods are generally far worse off than primarily Turkish neighborhoods.

Caitlin Huber

Sources: Oxford, Today’s Zaman, Daily Sabah, Hurriyet Daily News Non-Descrimination Time Pulitzer Center LSE Cities
Photo: Telegraph U.K.