Center for Disaster Philanthropy Webinar: Supporting long-term recovery in Turkey and Syria


Kit Muirhead


The recent tragedies of the Turkey/Syrian Earthquake serve to remind funders that when responding to crises, it is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’.

The Centre of Disaster Philanthropy’s webinar; A Layered Disaster: Supporting long-term recovery in Turkey and Syria, aimed to provide insight for grant-makers on how to best address the immediate,  medium- and long-term needs of communities affected by the earthquake.

Alliance magazine captured key insights and themes from the discussions for our readers.

Panellists included:

  • Sema Genel Karaos – Director, Support to Life, Chair at the NEAR Network.
  • Thomas Debass – Managing Director of the Office of Global Partnerships and the U.S. Department of State.
  • Jason Lacsamana – Director of Programs and Partnerships at St Joseph Community Partnership Fund
  • Alex Mahony – Deputy Director for the Office of Middle East, North Africa, and Europe

What is the status on the ground in Turkey and Syria? Insights from Sema Genel Karaos:

  • The situation on the ground remains ‘chaotic’ with multiple search and rescue teams still active in earthquake affected areas.
  • There is a high-level of mobility amongst communities who continue to have little to no access to shelter. Food and water provision also remains sporadic, posing significant risks for public health.
  • There are substantial amounts of international aid flowing into the area, however response efforts remain uncoordinated due to a lack of prepared and standardised crisis response mechanisms.

What can funders do to help?

Disasters exasperate already existing inequalities:

  • Marginalised communities typically have less access to resources that can help them prepare, respond, and recover to and from disasters.
  • The Turkey/Syrian Earthquake has disproportionately affected migrant and refugee communities, many of whom are now experiencing amplified vulnerability as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and ongoing conflict.
  • Recovery efforts provide a critical space in which structural forms of inequality can be addressed. Grant-makers must consider how their funding can be directed towards medium and long-term recovery efforts that challenge pre-disaster structures of power, poverty, and inequality.
  • Post-disaster structural change efforts must address the specific needs of marginalised groups, including women and girls, people with disability and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, all of whom are often hardest hit by disasters.

Trust-based philanthropy is necessary in times of crisis:

  • To address the specific needs of marginalised groups, panellists highlighted the importance of trust-based philanthropy and localisation.
  • During disasters, grant-makers may be required to abandon onerous reporting and monitoring mechanisms. These processes can place unnecessary strain on local humanitarian organisations and slow down effective crisis response mechanisms.
  • Instead, grant-makers must acknowledge the importance of local expertise and directly fund organisations and networks who are embedded in the affected communities.
  • Crises can offer an opportunity to build new trusting and long-lasting relationships with local actors that are essential for supporting sustainable and intersectional re-building and recovery efforts.

Learning from the past:

  • Panellists urged funders to research and learn from past disasters.
  • This can offer grant-makers important insights into new innovations and ways of approaching systems-thinking to better prepare for disasters in the future.

 You can watch the full recording of the event here:

Kit Muirhead is Partnerships Manager at Alliance magazine

Tagged in: Turkey-Syria earthquake

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