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Local administrations and disaster risk management in Turkey

Ulutürk, Gülcan
Global policies in disaster management have radically changed since 1990s, shifting the previously entrenched emphasis on emergency management, towards new applications of risk management. A series of international declarations expressed the determination and principles to reduce risks at every level, which were followed by many national governments. The disaster management system in Turkey seems to tend towards this approach, not necessarily based on an awareness of the global trends, but due to the severe impacts of the 1999 events. Since no understanding and political commitment for disaster mitigation prevails in Turkey, risk mitigation planning at every level is yet far from being effective. This claim constitutes the basic working hypothesis of the study. Verification of the hypothesis is based on a comparative analysis of the organizational structures of the selected countries, and a survey of recent local performance. The framework developed by the Kobe Conference is employed in both analyses. The former analysis indicated that despite the new institutional developments like ‘construction supervision’ and ‘obligatory insurance’, Turkey in its disaster policy is still far from a comprehensive mitigation approach in terms of the Kobe criteria. Although the laws of local administrations now contain new tasks of city-level disaster management, not only confusions between pre-disaster and post-disaster responsibilities prevail, but no operational guidance is given for the fulfillment these responsibilities. A whole range of activities are therefore in need of being streamlined into the tasks of urban planning in the reduction of disaster risks. With the amendment of laws, modification of the professional practice and the training of planners are expected.