Turkish Health Workers Find Housing in Shipping Containers Following Earthquake

This article is presented in partnership with Project HOPE

Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian organization, working side-by-side with local health workers and communities to save lives and improve the health and well-being of people around the world.

Learn more about Project HOPE

Two men hand a woman a box in the doorway of a housing container

August 6, 2023 marked the six-month anniversary of two deadly earthquakes rocking Turkey and Syria, where over 60,000 lives have been lost and millions have been displaced by this major event.

While it may seem unavoidable to move on from major global events in the daily newsfeed, millions of people across Turkey and Syria remain in this reality, left to rebuild their entire lives from rubble.

Reports from Project HOPE, a humanitarian aid organization, estimate that more than 500,000 houses were either severely damaged or collapsed after the earthquakes, displacing an estimated 3.3 million people across Turkey.

Along with finding safe housing, people also need access to health services, mental health support, non-food essentials, water, and protection services.

Project HOPE is just one of many organizations that have been working on the front lines of this crisis since February. Its most recent efforts include the distribution of 70 housing containers in the areas of Adıyaman, Hatay, and Kahramanmaraş.

These containers were made to address basic shelter needs specifically for health workers who have been displaced from their homes and are working among local populations to care for health needs.

“The main purpose of providing housing support to the health workers working on the front lines since the first day of the earthquake was to contribute to the uninterrupted provision of health care,” Project HOPE’s program coordinator in Turkey, Nezahat Yildirim, shared in an email.

The backs of a man and a woman are seen walking through rows of container housing
Adam Jacovou, and Nezahat Yildirim of Project HOPE walk through a community of container houses. Photo courtesy of Project HOPE

Yildirim said that the needs of civilian citizens were prioritized during the emergency response period, leaving outside organizations like Project HOPE to help keep frontline workers safe. 

Prior to the distribution of the housing containers, many health workers were resting and sleeping in hospital corridors or their own vehicles. 

Each container includes basic shelter needs, like sinks, bathrooms, and a space to live and sleep in. They also provide essential services like kitchen and laundry access, allowing local hospital staff to have a safe, personal place to turn to as they work on the front lines of crisis.

A way to meet a need quickly, these housing containers provide minimum conditions for health workers to live and work. Millions have been distributed from the state and international organizations to house local people, though Project HOPE’s focus is on ensuring safe housing for health care providers.

More containers are still being brought to the region by various donors, but Yildirim shared that the construction of earthquake-resistant permanent homes began in May. 

A row of shipping container houses
A row of shipping container houses in Turkey. Photo courtesy of Project HOPE

“This process is expected to continue until all earthquake victims have access to permanent housing,” she said. 

In addition to these housing containers, Project HOPE has also worked to ensure clean water in health facilities (as well as other settlements and rural areas) by delivering 50 water chlorination systems. These provide clean drinking water for nearly 42,050 people across 50 villages. 

Additionally, Project HOPE has provided thousands of hygiene kits, and a number of mobile medical units to areas most in need. Ongoing psychological support is also supported by the organization and its local partners. 

While the future of permanent housing in the earthquake zone is unknown, the people of Turkey have responded positively to Project HOPE’s efforts.

“[The local people] support that health workers deserve to live under minimum conditions in order to maintain the health care they need,” Yildirim said. “People in the earthquake zone care about supporting each other and prioritizing what is needed.” 


Editor’s note: Good Good Good follows AP Style. While the U.S. State Department and other official agencies have adopted the preferred spelling of Turkiye, the Associated Press maintains the traditional spelling of “Turkey,” so we have done the same. Any changes to this will be reflected in future edits.

Header image courtesy of Project HOPE

Article Details

August 10, 2023 8:45 AM
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