Empowering Refugees and Social Cohesion in Ankara

Good Practices

Empowering Refugees and Social Cohesion in Ankara

People sit and are writing in notebooks

The project in brief

The project is implemented by the Association for Social Development and Aid Mobilization (ASAM) in Türkiye . It began in February 2016 and will end in December 2024. 

The overall objective of the Empowering Refugees and Promoting Social Cohesion in Ankara project is to increase the resilience of the refugee communities through facilitating their access to rights and services, providing protection interventions to the ones who are in need and contributing to the social cohesion since 2016. Also supporting small scale NGOs in the field of migration through organizing mentoring sessions through the CLIP 2 programme is another objective.

This project is implemented under the scope of the “Improving Community-based Social Services for Refugees and Vulnerable Residents of Host Communities in Türkiye (CLIP 2) project”, co-funded by the European Union through its Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). This webpage covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union and BMZ, and the commissioning parties are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

The main goals of the project include:

  • Improving Social Cohesion
  • Increasing self-resilience of refugees
  • Supporting small-scale local initiatives

The elements that facilitated the implementation of the project include:

  • Small scale organizations have been supported to prepare policy papers, SOPs and HR documents in order them to be applicable for different funds to support sustainability and improve localization and increase their capacity. HR Manuels such as Code of Conduct, PSEA, Do No Harm Policies and Child Protection SOPs are prepared with 7 different organizations in 5 provinces.
  • Social cohesion activities were organized in cooperation with public institutions, municipalities and different NGOs, bringing together refugee communities and local people and developing practices for living together. In addition, with the certified language courses organized in coordination with the Ministry of National Education (MoNE), the participation of refugees in social and business life has been facilitated.

Main activities of the Good Practice

  1. Social Cohesion: With the certified Turkish language courses organized in partnership with MoNE to support the social cohesion of refugees, it is tried to facilitate the inclusion of people in social life and labour market. People are supported to be involved in daily life, efforts are made to gain self-confidence, and provided with a Ministry-approved certificate. Social cohesion activities were held both in the centre and in the outer areas support women's accessing public spaces, socializing. Furthermore, participation to the Ankara Metropolitan Municipalities Children Council was encouraged to engage with host community and be a part of local decision-making processes and representation of refugees. For this, parents were reached out to, promotion of the activity was made, and children’s physical access was ensured.
  2. Mentoring: To strengthen capacities of small local organizations, improve relations with public authorities, and enabling an environment for mutual learning. This network enables a successful cooperation between small scale organizations (grassroots, local initiatives, neighborhood organizations) and well-established NGOs in underserved areas to capacitate smaller organizations in their organizational structure as well as their technical expertise for high-quality and integrated service delivery. In addition, mentoring component improve the sustainability chances for civil society organizations of different size and capacities as well as future funding of the established network to keep supporting localization and services in underserved areas. All of these serve to fill the gaps in the migration field and pursue the localization as pointed out in the Grand Bargain.

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


Although the project changes in content over time, it has been going on for more than seven years. During this long period, many difficulties were faced.

The most important of these was the COVID 19 pandemic and the quarantine. The curfews experienced during the pandemic process seriously hindered the delivery of services. Again, with the pandemic period, the economic problems and unemployment, which started to increase gradually, unfortunately caused an economic crisis that was felt very seriously in our country. At this point, the difficulties experienced in managing the project budget due to both the deepening needs of the beneficiaries with the crisis experienced, the economic uncertainty and increasing costs can be emphasized that is still impacting todays needs and conditions of beneficiaries. More on social cohesion, limited access to physical space due to curfews, general awareness of social distance, and using masks decreased interactions amongst the host and refugee communities that also is visible in social cohesion barometers.

How they were overcome

With the start of the curfews due to the pandemic, as Ankara Community Centers (ACC), the counselling line was quickly activated. Telephone numbers that will serve in the relevant languages were quickly disseminated from social media and groups through the strong communication with the local refugee communities taking advantage of the grapevine. Phone calls were made to all households with family members over the age of 60 through the database, and both up-to-date information was obtained and detailed information was shared about the epidemic process. In a short time, all regular activities were moved to online platforms, ensuring minimal disruption.

Financial support was provided to beneficiaries who participated in online events by meeting with the donor, thus minimizing the impact of economic problems on participation.

Children look at camera

Results of the Good Practice

  1. Since 2016, more than 60 thousand counselling interviews have been held and almost half of them carried out during the pandemic.
  2. Throughout this 7-years period 1218 events were organized reaching 1374 individuals from refugee and host communities.
  3. Moreover, 18.906 people participated in all the activities organized, especially on psycho-social and health issues.
  4. The certified language courses have created new opportunities for individuals to overcome the language barrier. In the last 2 years, more than 200 refugees have been awarded Turkish Language certificates at different levels through the language courses provided in ACC.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

Throughout the seven years, the project reached out to the host community at the same neighbourhood, supporting continuity and familiarity of ASAM and its goals. The social cohesion activities that included adults, youth and children enables a safe, peaceful and playful space which is needed due to the socioeconomic conditions of the neighbourhood. For example, child friendly spaces responded to all family/caregivers need for recreational activities towards children. Thus, by enhancing encounters and by understanding and answering to the joint daily needs of the host communities and refugee communities the pressure decreased. ACC regularly monitors social tension in the neighbourhood and is able to evaluate such changes which is reported to the donors and stakeholders steadily.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

All social cohesion activities, especially language courses, are carried out to reduce the pressure on refugees as well. By overcoming the language barrier, increasing their participation in social life and supporting their entry into business life, their resilience is strengthened, activities are organized to break prejudices by encouraging them to come together with local people.

Children show their diplomas to the camera

Next steps

The project contract will expire at the end of 2024.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

Supporting localization has an important meaning in order to reach refugees in need in the field and to provide services to people living in underserved areas. In this context, strengthening the capacities of NGOs providing services in different provinces and establishing a supervision mechanism will increase the efficiency and quality of the services provided in all areas. In this context, it will be a very meaningful work to strengthen the communication of institutions developed under the content of mentoring with small-scale institutions serving locally and to spread them to all fields. Prioritizing and supporting the contents of localization and capacity building while transferring the funds will both increase the quality and ensure sustainability.

Submitted by

Serhat Bağlar, Project Coordinator, Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) 

[email protected]

Contact the project