Urban Journalism Institute
Municipal Times Journal


In the last day of the Brussels Urban Summit, an enlightening conversation took place, featuring Turkish mayors who shared their experiences in leading their cities in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake last month of February. The dialogue revolved around ideas and strategies for effective response and recovery in the wake of natural disasters.  

Considered one of the most severe natural disasters in over a century, the earthquake resulted in a tragic loss of over 4,000 lives and left nearly 16,000 people injured. The catastrophe created an urgent need for basic necessities such as shelter, food, clean water, and sanitation, affecting millions of individuals. 

The conversation was introduced by Yücel Yilmaz, mayor of Balikesir, President of the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye and Ambassador of the Pact for the Future of Humanity. Yilmaz expressed gratitude to the international community and the international association of mayors, including UCLG MEWA, Metropolis, and Eurocities, for their incredible support and significant mobilization of resources. 

Tunç Soyer, mayor of Izmir, the city most profoundly impacted by the earthquake, emphasized the importance of training and preparedness to effectively handle such crises. Continuous training is crucial to develop the capacity to respond promptly and efficiently. Drawing lessons from past experiences is paramount in ensuring readiness for future disasters.  

Ugur Ibrahim Altay, mayor of Konya, highlighted that their primary focus after the earthquake was to ensure the provision of clean drinking water, considering the destruction of vital infrastructure. Cansel Tuncer, Secretary General of Antalya Metropolitan Municipality, emphasized the urgent need to provide shelter for thousands of displaced individuals due to the destruction of approximately 300,000 buildings. 

The deputy mayor of Kilis, Mustafa Tohumcu, explained that although the city did not suffer significant damage from the earthquake, it experienced a surge in the population of 40% due to migration, placing immense pressure on urban services.   

Seyma Dögücü, mayor of Sancaktepe, underscored the importance of solidarity and collaborative efforts when responding to such disasters, emphasizing the strength derived from working together. 

The insightful conversation among the Turkish mayors shed light on effective post-earthquake leadership strategies. The shared experiences and lessons learned will undoubtedly contribute to enhancing disaster response and recovery efforts in the future, ensuring better preparation and support for affected communities worldwide.