In 2011 Nisanur Kepceler watched with a heavy heart as her school was razed to the ground.
“I was so upset,” says Kepceler, a student in Istanbul, Turkey, “I didn’t want to see it demolished.”
Her sorrow, however, soon turned to joy as she settled into her new, modern school, which was erected were her old school had once stood. Not only was this new building larger and better equipped with art supplies, laboratory tools, and other school equipment – it was also more structurally sound and better able to withstand the shock from an earthquake.
“I feel lucky and special to study in such a modern school like this. I feel safer in this new school,” admits Kepceler.
Hear Nisanur's story (Video)
Resting at the confluence of several tectonic plates, Turkey is no stranger to seismic activity. Over the last two decades no fewer than nine strong earthquakes – registering between 6.0-6.9 on the Richter scale – have occurred across the country. At least three major earthquakes, registering between 7.0-7.9, also occurred during this time. The worst, a 7.6 quake in Izmit was devastating - leveling buildings, killing more than 18,000 people and injuring more than 43,000 people.[BA1]
Recognizing the perennial danger posed by major earthquakes, policymakers in Turkey have continued to focus energy and resources to both help combat the destructive forces of an earthquake and better prepare for when a big one hits.
The city of Istanbul, with an estimated population of more than 14 million people, has been particularly proactive in this regard – working with The World Bank Group and other development partners to help increase the resiliency of public buildings, like Nisanur’s school, to earthquakes and to better prepare its population in the wake of an emergency should another powerful earthquake strike.
At the center of these efforts has been the Istanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness project (ISMEP), a 10 year, $550 million project designed to help improve the city’s capacity for disaster and emergency management. Over the last decade, ISMEP has helped the country both mitigate some of the largest impacts of an earthquake and improve the response when emergencies arise.