Partnering with Municipalities in accelerating services for the most vulnerable groups in Türkiye
The project in brief
The project is implemented by United Nations Population Fund Türkiye Country Office. It began in October 2020 and was completed in March 2023.
UNFPA partners with Ankara Metropolitan Municipality to provide SRH, GBV prevention and response services, and strengthen the social cohesion and empowerment of the vulnerable women and youth, especially the refugee population. UNFPA also strengthens the institutional capacity of the municipalities in reaching out to the furthest behind women and youth.
The good practice aims to:
- increase the access of refugee women and young people to sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence services, through municipal services.
- improve the human resources and technical capacities of the municipalities in providing services to the refugee women and girls and the most vulnerable groups.
UNFPA Türkiye has been discussing the needs of refugee women and young people in the most refugee-concentrated provinces. The municipalities of Ankara have highlighted the gap, especially in the sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence prevention and response services.
As a result, UNFPA Türkiye mobilised resources to complement the municipal services, and develop the institutional capacities in this regard.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- Establishment of the specialised service unit in Ankara, which is integrated in the municipal service unit/community center: Through this Project, a center (Women and Youth Support Center-WYSC) was established in partnership with Ankara Metropolitan Municipality (AMM). Through this service unit, essential protection, gender-based violence prevention and response (GBV) and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and social cohesion activities are provided. In addition, socio-economic empowerment of women and youth are supported via life skills building, employment coaching, experience- sharing and networking. The center supported refugee women and youth through language skills workshops (Turkish speaking clubs) and referrals to AMM’s and other accredited Turkish courses.
- Capacity Building of the Municipalities -1547 municipality manager and service providers were trained in the context of the project. The project aimed to build the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality’s institutional and human resources capacity on providing health and protection services to the most vulnerable groups, who are refugee women and young people, as well as in the area of prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. Awareness raising and technical trainings were provided to the administrative level personnel and service providers of the Municipality. In addition, support is provided to the municipality in strengthening local market analysis for refugees.
- Advocacy and dissemination of the good practices in Türkiye - Best practices dissemination, twinning activities: Good practice dissemination and twinning programmes with other interested municipalities were established. A guidebook/SOP was developed defining a multi-sectoral service provision model to refugees so that the project can be upscaled to other municipalities.
- Monitoring and Evaluation - continues data collection from field, FGDs, evaluation, knowledge change etc.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
- Rising anti refugee rhetoric in Türkiye, which would affect the willingness of the Municipality to implement the programme, as well as the service provision.
- Reluctance of refugees, particularly vulnerable refugees to join the services and to visit the center.
- Resistance amongst the Municipality to showcase their services amongst refugee women and youth because of the anti refugee rhetoric context in the county.
How they were overcome
- UNFPA has been organising activities in the context of the Project to bring the refugee and Türkiye communities together, to strengthen the social cohesion, and minimising the barriers in the communication and combating with the myths around the refugees in Türkiye. As a result, there was a positive change among the service users of the center, and communities have started to get together in the center in the group and co-creating activities. UNFPA and The Municipality of Ankara and Şanlıurfa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering the next three-year process. Even if there might be a turn over at the decision-making level at the Municipality, the MoU ensure continuation of partnership to achieve the results of this project.
- Risk of low accessibility of the most vulnerable people due to sociocultural barriers (to get out of their houses and come to the centers, because of the social and cultural norms such as house work, child, disabled or elderly care) was mitigated by outreach activities performed by the service providers and service mediators/outreach workers. The service mediators/outreach workers are selected among the target group and play an important role through building trust, providing information to the women, youth and their families. Depending on the need, there were sessions targeting male relatives of these women and youth (husbands, fathers, brothers, etc) to better explain to them the activities at the center. One of the added values of these activities is to contribute to social cohesion between the refugee and Turkish community. Also, UNFPA had conducted a round of Focus Group Discussions at the beginning of the project among beneficiaries to identify the ways to include them in the services and activities provided by the center and taken necessary actions as per the results.
- UNFPA have first provided a specialised training to the Municipality central management to increase their sensitivity and knowledge on the rights, needs, priority areas related to the refugees in Türkiye, while providing sessions on the legal and social rights, non-discriminative service provision principles and important aspects on gender-based violence and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. Following that, similar trainings were provided to the managers and service providers of the different departments of the Municipalities, that provide family and children services, community centers, public transportation, municipal security, water and sanitization, catering and restaurant services. These trainings created an awareness and in time ensured the ownership and willingness to include the refugee population to the service provision without any discrimination.
Results of the Good Practice
As a result of the Project refugee women and youth in Ankara have received essential sexual and reproductive health and protection services, while their social cohesion, self-efficacy were strengthened.
- 3886 refugee women and youth were reached out through the SRH and GBV service provision in the UNFPA supported municipality services in Ankara.
- 3259 refugee women and youth received sexual and reproductive health services through UNFPA supported municipality services in Ankara.
- 2715 of refugee women and youth who received specialised protection services through UNFPA supported municipality services in Ankara.
- 1817 women and youth from refugee and Turkish communities were included in the social cohesion activities through UNFPA supported municipality services in Ankara.
- 1124 women participated in the women’s economic empowerment activities through UNFPA supported municipality services in Ankara. 393 women were able to gain income through employment by the companies and self-employed through the activities organized in the centers.
- 1547 number of Municipality personnel from relevant departments were included in the sensitivity and capacity building trainings on service provision to refugee women and youth.
- 14 other municipalities capacities were developed and they were included in the twinning activities as a result of the good practices sharing.
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
The good practice eases the pressures on host countries through supporting local governments in providing services to the most vulnerable refugee women and youth. UNFPA has developed the institutional capacity of the Municipalities in providing essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH), gender-based violence services (GBV) and social cohesion activities specialised for the refugee women and youth. The capacity building has targeted the higher management, various municipality departments and service providers who are responsible to serve the public.
In addition, the National Social Cohesion Strategy Document (for 2018 - 2023) of the Presidency of Migration Management Türkiye prioritized the localization of the services by the municipalities. The good practice supported and eased the pressure of the Ankara Metropolitan and other municipalities in providing SRH and protection and GBV services, while strengthening the social cohesion through activities.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The good practice enhances refugee self-reliance through empowering them in several areas with the activities and services conducted in the Center. The individual and group counselling on SRH, including family planning methods, antenatal and postnatal care, pregnancy and adolescent group sessions, psycho-education and psychosocial sessions, prevention and response to GBV activities, information dissemination on the rights and entitlements of the refugees in Türkiye have empowered and supported the resilience of the refugee women and youth. In addition, the center provided economic empowerment activities that enabled the refugee women to gain income and supported their Turkish language skills through courses and speaking clubs to built on their self-reliance.
The self-efficacy surveys conducted pre and post services over time in the UNFPA supported, municipality center (Women and Youth Support Center) showed that, 99 % of the assessed beneficiaries report an increase in the self-efficacy level, which is solid evidence that is supporting the self-reliance objective.
Before the end of the project, Ankara Municipality and UNFPA have planned and completed the transfer of the services to the Municipal bodies through the following methodologies:
- Relevant Municipality service providers have been involved in all capacity building trainings that organised the UNFPA supported service providers. These included sexual and reproductive health (SRH), gender-based violence (GBV), psychosocial support service (PSS) provision and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) trainings.
- During the last quarter of the project, the selected Municipal service providers were integrated in the UNFPA supported service unit and shadowed the service provision.
- The beneficiaries with high and medium risks were transferred to the Municipality services and followed up.
- The beneficiaries were transferred to the Municipalities service providers and reached out even after the closure of the service unit.
- UNFPA developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Women and Youth Support Center. Training on SOP was provided to the relevant service units of the Municipality to understand the practices. In the training, the UNFPA supported service providers shared their experiences.
- A final project evaluation (with FGDs and KIIs with the beneficiaries and key project partners) were conducted and showcase the good practices and gaps in the project.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
The established modality was applied and scaled up in another province. UNFPA has established a partnership with the Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality and established a similar center to support the SRH and GBV services for the refugee women and girls in Şanlıurfa, through another funding resource. The center is integrated in the Şanlıurfa Metrpolitan Municipality’s service unit, and started to reach out to the refugee women and girls through static and mobile teams. The model in Şanlıurfa were developed to meet the needs of the refugee women and girls, and the lessons learned from the Ankara example were applied to this model. The project with Şanlıurfa Metrpolitan Municipality will continue.
On the other hand, the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality has taken over the service provision model, and will be deploying service providers to continue specialised services to the refugee women and youth in Ankara, following the project with UNFPA.
Nazlı Moral Uydu, Humanitarian Programme Manager, United Nations Population Fund, Türkiye
Selen Ors Reyhanioglu, Humanitarian Programme Coordinator, United Nations Population Fund, Türkiye
Zeynep Başarankut Kan, Assistant Representative, United Nations Population Fund, Türkiye