In the rural areas of Turkey, people were seriously affected by natural resource degradation, involving declining agricultural yields, soil fertility, and incomes. Deforestation to meet increasing timber, fuel, and fodder demands, together with the overgrazing of rangelands, farming on steep slopes, and lack of effective soil conservation practices on agricultural lands, resulted in widespread deterioration. In the early 2000s, the Government of Turkey launched an ambitious economic reform program to create the basis for stable economic growth and set the stage for the country’s entry into the European Union (EU). In the rural sector, this included a reform program that would increase Turkey’s agricultural competitiveness, protect its natural resources, and ensure improved livelihoods for the poor.
The Anatolia Watershed Rehabilitation Project was the second phase of successful World Bank support to Turkey targeting sustainable natural resource management and poverty reduction on a watershed basis. It combined International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) sources to support a multi-sectoral, community-driven approach to natural resource management and rehabilitation at the micro-catchment level, income generation, and ground water pollution reduction. The rehabilitation of degraded rangelands through rotations and the introduction of organic matter, as well as tree planting activities, have reduced soil erosion and increased soil fertility and agricultural productivity. Through the introduction of improved manure and nutrient management practices as well as organic farming, nutrient loads in tributaries to the Black Sea have been significantly reduced. Finally, the AWRP project pioneered collaborative work between rural development agencies and demonstrated linkages between sustainable natural resource management and improved rural livelihoods.