Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) 

Cash-Based Interventions (CBIs)

Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) 

The project in brief

Implemented by

Ministry of Family  and Social Services (MoFSS) - Turkey




December 2016 - Ongoing


Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) is designed by the Directorate General of Social Assistance (DGSA) of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, Turkish Red Crescent (TRC), World Food Program (WFP) and the European Union Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) in order to deliver cash assistance to the most vulnerable foreigners living under temporary or international protection in Turkey and aims to allow refugees living outside of the camps across Turkey to cover their basic needs such as food, shelter, clothes etc. in dignity, and is implemented through the KIZILAYKART platform. 

ESSN is funded by the ECHO and is implemented in a partnership between the WFP, TRC and DGSA. ESSN is the highest budgeted humanitarian aid funded by the EU. ESSN was contracted to WFP as pillars of ESSN I and ESSN II. ESSN II is budgeted until the end of March 2020 including Cost and Non-Cost Extensions. Beginning with April 2020 the contract with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(IFRC) has started as ESSN III and is budgeted until the beginnig of 2021. 

As of 20 October 2016, ESSN programme module was activated in the Integrated Social Assistance Information System (ISAIS). Thereafter as of 28 November 2016, applications were received for ESSN programme throughout the country. The applications are received through the 1003 Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations (SASFs) established in each province and district or through the TRC Service Center which are in selected provinces/districts. 

EU DG ECHO funds ESSN and it is implemented with a partnership of IFRC, TRC and MoFSS to deliver cash assistance to the  vulnerable foreigners living under Temporary and International Protection, international protection applicants and humanitarian residency holders in Turkey.  Its total budget is Euro and so far € 2.044.765.406 of the total amount has ben expended.

Project Aims

It aims to meet basic humanitarian needs of refugees through   such as food, shelter, clothes  etc. through cash-based assistances.

Resources used

ESSN program is implemented under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRIT) mechanism.

Main activities of the Good Practice 

  1. Determining the beneficiaries by conducting household visits and by using ISAIS

Implementing both programmes in all districts of Turkey can only be achieved with a strong IT structure and 1003 SASFs are established in each province and district. ISAIS ensures automation, transparency, full control, accountability and simultaneous automatic registration. In order to benefit from the programme, people applied to DGMM, got their foreigner ID cards and declared their current address.


  1. Providing monthly payments to beneficiaries

Kızılaykart  can be used in shops, just like a standard debit card. But it is not just a cash card. It’s an acknowledgement that, despite their hardships, refugees should have the right to choose how to manage their lives.


  1. Providing top-up payments to householder members
  2. Strengthening the institutional capacity of local and main institutions
  3. Conducting monitoring and evaluation activities to assess the programmes


  • European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Directorate General (ECHO)
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • Turkish Red Crescent (TRC)

ESSN was contracted to WFP as pillars of ESSN I and ESSN II under FRIT I and  as of April 2020, it was contracted to IFRC as pillars of ESSN III and ESSN IV.

Challenges and how they were overcome


The majority of Syrians under temporary protection and other refugees live in relatively less well-off areas of Turkey. In this context, preventing social tension between Syrians and the host communities was one of the major challenges.

In addition, estimates suggest that between %15 and 30% of the current ESSN caseload could be transferred to alternative social assistance programmes with further reductions through the potential adaptation of the targeting criteria. However, this would still leave between 1 and 1.4 million refugees in need of some form of social assistance and/or longer-term socio-economic measures to enhance their self-reliance.  That’s why, with a given programme budget, to reach rest of the refugees in need is an issue.

How they were overcome

To address this challenge, the transfer value for ESSN beneficiaries have been kept similar to the amount of Turkish Citizens’ benefit from national social assistance system. As a result, these actions may help to reduce the social tension between host community and refugees.

In addition, with a view to overcome those challenges, funding of the facility must continue as long as Syrian refugee situation endures. Thus, international assistance is necessary.

Results of the Good Practice 

  • KIZILAYKART gives them access to a fixed amount of money every month. It can be used in shops, just like a normal debit card. Thanks to KIZILAYKART,  beneficiaries can use the money to buy whatever they need for their families i.e. food, fuel, rent and bills. In fact, an acknowledgement should have the right to choose how to manage their lives.
  • As of  November 2021 number of beneficiaries reached around 1.5 million   and monthly transfer value of the assistance is 155 TRY per person. Also, periodic top-ups (every 3 months) is allocated to households members.
  • In order to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 pandemic totally san additional payments  of 29.800.000 Euro was allocated to 309.934  beneficiaries. 

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Thanks to ESSN, beneficiaries can cover some of their basic needs and that resulted in reducing their negative coping strategies and diminishing the poverty level of beneficiaries.

Next steps 

Funding of the facility must continue as long as Syrian refugee situation endures. Thus, international assistance is necessary.

Further support required for the project to continue or scale up

External funding is a must  for the continuation of the programme.



Submitted by: 

Rıdvan Kurtipek, Expert - Ministry of Family and Social Services (MoFSS)

[email protected]