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Turkey: Improving Community Level Natural Resource Management

April 10, 2013

World Bank Group

The Anatolia Watershed Rehabilitation Project (AWRP) promoted community-level, sustainable natural resource management and planning, reducing pollution in the Black sea and increasing agricultural competitiveness and income in rural communities. As a result, average household incomes in the target areas increased by 53 percent, soil fertility on sloping lands by more than 20 percent, and vegetation cover by 77 percent above the baseline. Over 30 percent of farmers adopted environmentally friendly agricultural practices and 60 percent adopted improved manure management techniques.



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.

" I feel myself to be a useful part of this project from which our entire village benefits  "

Ali Uysal

Resident, Aydıncık subprovince of Çorum


The AWRP focused on promoting a participatory approach to natural resource management and improved agricultural production on a watershed basis, and resulted in several key outcomes:

  • household incomes in the target micro-catchments increased on average 53 percent between 2005 and the June 2012 close of the project;
  • soil fertility on sloping lands (measured by crop productivity) increased by more than 20 percent between 2005 and 2012;
  • vegetative cover increased in the project area by 77 percent above baseline over the seven years of the project;
  • between 2005 and 2012, over 30 percent of farmers adopted environmentally friendly agricultural practices and 60 percent of farmers adopted improved manure management, reducing the nutrient load in the water sources draining into the Black Sea.

Bank Group Contribution

The project was a combination of IBRD (US$15.70 million) and a GEF grant (US$7 million) approved in 2004. Its program of watershed management at the micro-catchment level was unique in Turkey, and was developed and implemented using a participatory planning method that directly engaged the beneficiaries and local government counterparts in all aspects of design and implementation—a key to promoting ownership. The project also created a platform for various governmental departments and directorates to work together collaboratively at both the local and national levels. Most importantly, the project established a direct link between natural resource rehabilitation and tangible economic and social benefits, which led to its overall success.


The project was implemented in conjunction with Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Ministry of Environment and Forestry, as well as directorates under the ministries represented at both the national and local levels.

Moving Forward

Given the importance of water in Turkey and the projected impact of climate change, a new project is in the pipeline that will address water issues across the country at a river-basin level. The basis for the new project will be the National Watershed Strategy that was just completed. Lessons learned from AWRP, including participatory planning and implementation at the local level, will be incorporated into that new nation-wide effort to address issues of natural resource degradation and water management.


Esma Bolat, a villager in the province of Çorum, is one of the beneficiaries of the solar hot water heaters provided that reduced fuel wood consumption and took pressure off the fragile forest ecosystems. She says that the water heaters provided a reliable source of hot water needed for cooking, bathing, and laundry, and contributed significantly to the well-being of her family.

Ali Uysal, a beneficiary of the project from the Aydıncık subprovince of Çorum, states that he is happy to be a part of the community-driven efforts to improve the livelihoods of the poor in his region. “I feel myself to be a useful part of this project from which our entire village benefits.”


Increase in soil fertility on sloping lands in the region between 2005-12
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