Our humanitarian engagements in the Continent, as well as other parts of the world are aimed at introducing permanent solutions rather than makeshift remedies for structural problems. This humanitarian policy, comprising social responsibility projects, is conducted with the active involvement of Turkish civil society and business sector, and has achieved improving countless lives on the ground, writes Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
African countries, today, are exerting every effort to overcome the challenges they face with their own resources and through their own mechanisms. Turkey is an ardent supporter of African solutions for African issues. With its wide diplomatic representation all around the Continent, Turkey stands with its African sisters and brothers in their quest for further development and prosperity.
Humanitarian diplomacy is one of the main components of Turkey’s approach towards Africa. Hosting the first-ever United Nations World Humanitarian Summit on 23-24 May is a clear sign of Turkey’s outstanding position in this field.
Our humanitarian engagements in the Continent, as well as other parts of the world are aimed at introducing permanent solutions rather than makeshift remedies for structural problems. This humanitarian policy, comprising social responsibility projects, is conducted with the active involvement of Turkish civil society and business sector, and has achieved improving countless lives on the ground.
Development assistance with social awareness
In formulating and implementing development projects, the wellbeing of societies is always a priority of Turkey’s official development effort. In this regard, Turkey establishes infrastructure and takes necessary measures for the sustainability of these undertakings to the benefit of local societies and put emphasis on capacity building at every step of the way.
Take the example of two hospitals Turkey opened in conflict ridden regions: Darfur and Mogadishu. These training and research hospitals were officially inaugurated in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Turkish government could have taken the easy way by handing over the keys of the hospitals to the Sudanese and Somali authorities after completing the construction and refurbishment. Instead, Turkey, together with the local authorities, has established joint management teams for the hospitals for the next five-year-period. By doing so, we are ensuring both the high quality health services, provided by over 100 Turkish doctors and health professionals, and training the future local managers and staff of the hospitals.
NGOs in the field
Along with TİKA, our official development agency, Turkish NGOs have been one of the main instruments of Turkish development assistance towards African countries. Turkish doctors, as volunteers, have taken part in numerous health screening campaigns, organized by Turkish NGOs over 20 countries across the continent. Over a quarter million Africans have undergone health screenings and tens of thousands of them received free cataract surgeries, which enabled them to see their loved ones again, and for the first time in some cases.
Turkish NGOs also opened numerous water-wells where the water shortage not only affects the livelihood of the people but also caused intra-communal clashes. These wells also help the local economy and overall security on the ground.
Businessmen and do-gooder
Turkish businessmen and investors, while creating employment for local youth, are also developing corporate responsibility projects to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by the natural and man-made disasters.
For instance, Turkish companies in Ethiopia have recently initiated a campaign for the victims of drought caused by El Niño. Under the coordination of TIKA and Turkish Embassy in Addis Ababa, and participation of the Alumni Association of Ethiopian Students who studied in Turkey, Turkish businessmen in Ethiopia donated over USD 350,000. The funds were used for provision of food for 3.000 families and animal feed for 5,000 households in Afar region, where the people were hit hardest by the drought.
Being one of the biggest air-carrier of the Continent with its regular flights to 48 destinations in Africa, Turkish Airlines has also displayed distinctive examples of corporate social responsibility. For instance, Turkish Airlines provided with the sustainable source of income over 600 families in Niger. The Airlines established rural health clinics in Uganda and rehabilitated two orphanages in Burkina Faso.
Empowering the women and the youth
Being aware of the women’s critical role in governance, peacebuilding, education and development, Turkey also realizes projects that aim at encouraging more women to participate actively in these areas. This approach is in line with the Agenda 2063 of the African Union. (AU)
In this regard, Turkish Small and Medium Business Development and Support Administration (KOSGEB), in collaboration with the Women, Gender and Development Directorate of the AU Commission organized a business trip for African women entrepreneurs to Istanbul on 21-23 December 2015 to exchange information and observe the good practices in Turkey. KOSGEB organized a similar event for Somali women and young entrepreneurs within the framework of the Somali High Level Partnership Forum which took place in İstanbul on 23-24 February 2016.
Last but not least, under the auspices of the First Lady Emine Erdoğan, we are launching in Ankara on 25 May 2016, an African Handcraft Bazaar that coincides with the African Day celebrations in Turkey. We are trying to make a modest but exemplary contribution to the social development efforts of African women. The main aim of the project is to help marketing African handcrafts produced by African women. This project is a good example of public and civil society collaboration in social responsibility projects for African societies.
For a better future
As one of the intrinsic part of our humanitarian diplomacy, we are committed to ensuring that the Turkish development assistance to African countries are in line with the priorities of African countries and African Union. We continue encouraging the Turkish NGOs and entrepreneurs to be socially aware of the current and future needs and requirements of the people, wherever they operate. This approach will remain as one of our ultimate operating principles in providing humanitarian and development assistance.
Taking this opportunity, I congratulate the Africa Day of all Africans and friends of Africa.
Ed.’s Note: Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. The article was provided to The Reporter by the Embassy of Turkey in Addis Ababa. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.