Relevant learning for the earthquake response in Türkiye and Syria

06 Feb 2023

In light of the recent earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, the ALNAP Secretariat will be highlighting relevant learnings resources. We hope these prove useful to you if you are involved in the response. Our thoughts go to all those affected.

In our latest blog we spoke to Helene Juillard, lead author of ALNAP’s 2018 lessons synthesis on earthquakes, about key takeaways for responders in Türkiye and Syria, and asked Jen Doherty, research lead on the ALNAP lessons papers, for her thoughts on learning priorities for the current response. The blog is available in English, Türkçe and عرب.

We have also produced a summary PDF of the 16 lessons identified in the 2018 paper for you to download and share, also available in English, Türkçe and عرب.


The following bullet points summarise 16 lessons to inform humanitarian responses to earthquakes as identified in ‘ALNAP Lessons Paper: Responding to Earthquakes’. You can read more detail about each of the lessons, as well as notes on the methodology, in the full paper linked above. 

Lessons which apply across the project cycle (See pg. 10-15)
  • Engage broadly and rapidly with local and national actors – even the most affected communities and authorities have some level of capacity after an earthquake 

  • Acknowledge and do not undermine the work of private sector entities to ensure business continuity following an earthquake

  • Do not let infrastructure and access challenges get in the way of communication, especially with isolated communities

  • Ensure that cross-cutting issues such as gender, security and the environment are incorporated at all stages of the response

Lessons relating to assessment and analysis (See pg. 16-17)
  • Conduct thorough assessments which recognise and identify the distinct ways earthquakes affect different populations

  • Follow established good practice for needs assessments, recognising the specific challenges of doing so in urban areas

  • Conduct assessments in ways that avoid exacerbating tensions between host communities and internally displaced persons

Lessons relating to strategic planning (See pg. 18-19)
  • Locate spaces to store debris and, if appropriate, use short-term conditional assistance to clear it

  • Anticipate issues related to lack of documentation and complex land tenure

Lessons relating to resource mobilisation (See pg. 20)
  • Mobilise sufficient and appropriate surge capacities

Lessons relating to implementation (See pg. 21-24)
  • Account for quickly evolving health needs in post-earthquake contexts. Be aware that epidemics can happen

  • Prioritise the repair of existing structures, support ownerdriven reconstruction, preserve architectural heritage and use relocation and resettlement only as a last resort

  • Be cautious with setting up transitional shelters, which may hinder longer-term reconstruction

  • Address long-term as well as immediate education needs

Lessons relating to Monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) (See pg. 25-26)
  • Recognise the value of MEAL and push through obstacles

Lesson relating to coordination (See pg. 27-28)
  • Put time and effort into coordination to avoid negative impacts on the response