Reconstruction Challenges and Slow Progress in Turkey’s Quake Cities

Six months after Turkey’s twin earthquakes, the affected cities are still battling with dust and rubble. In the southern city of Antakya, thousands of people are living in makeshift tents and container camps, as the process of clearing away the rubble is still ongoing. The Turkish government estimates that the cost to rebuild in the 11 affected provinces will be $105 billion. However, progress with reconstruction has been slow, leaving many residents feeling forgotten and abandoned.

Hulya Yesiloglu, a resident of Antakya, wonders if surviving the earthquakes was worth it when she sees the state of her city. Her old stone oven is the only part of her home that remains intact. The buildings in the city still lean over vacant lots, and dust covers every surface. The government’s one-year deadline for rebuilding the region seems far-fetched, considering the immense destruction that occurred. In Hatay province alone, more than 23,000 people died, and over 30,000 were injured. By July, 164,000 people were still living in tents and containers.

Huseyin Yayman, a representative of Hatay in parliament, acknowledges that the rehabilitation process will take much longer than anticipated. He believes that financial help, both domestic and international, is crucial for the recovery. The distribution of aid has been uneven, with some areas lacking air conditioning and others facing a scarcity of safe drinking water. In Antakya, Hulya and her husband have run out of purified drinking water and are now relying on well water.

Permanent housing is a priority for many residents. In the city of Hassa, new apartment blocks are being built with a budget of $370 million. This development will offer housing for 30,000 people and include essential facilities. However, the completion of the project is expected to take at least until next summer. Meanwhile, families like the Yesiloglu’s, whose homes were slightly damaged, face a longer road to recovery. They are dependent on government assistance and are uncertain about the future.

The reconstruction process in Turkey’s quake cities is facing numerous challenges. The government needs to address the distribution of aid, ensuring that all affected areas have access to essential resources such as air conditioning and safe drinking water. Additionally, the pace of reconstruction needs to be expedited to meet the urgent housing needs of the affected residents. Financial assistance from both national and international sources is crucial to support the recovery efforts. It is essential that the government prioritizes the well-being and needs of the affected communities and ensures their active involvement in the rebuilding process. Only then can these cities gradually restore normalcy and provide a sense of security and stability to their residents.