Improving social services of community centres and local initiatives for refugees and host communities in Turkey

Project description

Title: Improving Social Services for Refugees and Host Communities in Turkey by Supporting Community Centres and Local Initiatives – Community Centres and Local Initiatives Project (CLIP)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ),+ Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO)
Countries: Turkey
Lead executing agencies: Vice President’s Office of the Republic of Turkey
Overall term: 2017 to 2020



The civil war in Syria has been ongoing since 2011, forcing millions of Syrians to flee to Turkey. The country is currently home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and additionally to more than 400.000 refugees from other countries. 

More than 95 per cent of refugees have found shelter in cities, outside of camps. Despite huge efforts and progress in recent years, the Turkish government continues to face the challenges of ensuring access to quality services for refugees and responding to their specific needs. Many refugees are not yet receiving support and have no access to social services. Non-registered refugees, seasonal migrants, persons with disabilities or LGBTI refugees are particularly at high risk of being left behind.

Many refugees suffer from language barriers. This makes it difficult for them to access services or interact and exchange with their neighbours. Members of Turkish host communities also face economic, psycho-social and educational challenges. The most disadvantaged persons amongst both groups, such as the disabled, youth or survivors of gender-based violence, may not yet find adequate support. Although growing, there are still few opportunities for Turkish persons and refugees to interact with and learn about each other. Competition for jobs has increased as businesses draw on cheap labour by refugees. This may lead to tension between refugees and the local community. 

To address some of these challenges, community centres and local initiatives have been established throughout Turkey. These centres and initiatives are often run by non-governmental organisations and also community-based organisations that provide services complementing governmental efforts in service provision to refugees and host communities, as well as filling some of the gaps in connecting to hard-to-reach groups. Through these centres and initiatives, refugees find a safe space, and get access to protection services, legal advice, psycho-social assistance, as well as language and skills development courses and social cohesion activities. They receive information about state services in their environment. Members of the host community also participate in workshops for skills development and join the community centres for intercultural or recreational activities.  

During recent years, major progress has been made to expand the range of services provided to refugees and host communities. Nevertheless, there is still the need to reach vulnerable refugees to provide them with adequate social services; both in scope and quality. Furthermore, the connection between the services provided by community centres and local initiatives, and those provided by the state, needs to be strengthened to increase sustainability.


Social services, including intercultural exchange, offered by community centres and local initiatives to refugees and the host communities are improved.



The Community Centres and Local Initiatives Project provides technical and financial support to up to 12 community centres and 20 local initiatives. The project works in four action fields: 



  • Support to community centres
  • Local Initiative Fund in Turkey (LIFT)
  • Harmonisation of services with governmental standards
  • Capacity Development 

Action field 1 provides financial means and technical support to community centres and social services centres across Turkey. The centres are open to everybody independent from origin, age or gender. At these centres, refugees and members of the host communities get access to multiple activities in the fields of protection, education and intercultural exchange. All services are based on needs assessments and carried out in participatory ways. Social cohesion activities create a space for exchange among and between refugees and host community members. Education activities include Turkish lessons, vocational courses and skill development courses. Advisory services, including legal consultation, assist refugees with integration into the community and referral to existing state services. Some centres also offer services in the field of psycho-social counselling. To overcome the barriers against accessing services, some centres offer translation services for people to access state services, as well as providing transportation to community centres and state services. Awareness-raising and advocacy activities allow refugees and members of the host communities to be informed about their rights and receive guidance on protection topics such as child-specific measures, women’s rights, refugee rights, registration and work permit issues. 

In action field 2, GIZ supports up to 20 small and medium sized non-governmental and community-based organisations that provide specific assistance and protection services to particularly vulnerable persons who are at risk of being “left behind” from the refugee response. This may be working children, seasonal migrants, non-registered refugees or persons with disabilities. The support is organised in forms of projects which benefit from the funds under the Local Initiative Fund in Turkey (LIFT). LIFT is administered and run by GIZ. LIFT projects aim to address specific needs of these particularly vulnerable people such as protection services, legal concerns and health issues, and increasing services available in underserved areas.

In action field 3 the project supports the development of networking structures between implementing partners and state institutions in the environment. Exchange formats, such as regular meetings between implementing partners and state institutions, facilitate better alignment with the requirements of state institutions, such as standards and guidelines. This leads to better and more efficient and effective service provision for refugees and host communities and creates more sustainable structures that enable longer-term perspectives for the implementing partners.

Action field 4 provides specific capacity development measures at individual and organisational levels for the community centres, local initiatives and related public institutions. Measures include organisational development, quality management, protection, project design and social cohesion. Through these trainings, professionalisation of staff is enhanced, and improvement of service quality is ensured. Capacity development measures are open for community centre and local initiative staff as well as for staff from state institutions who work in the field of social service provision to disadvantaged host communities and refugees. Trainings also create a platform for encountering and exchange among public and civil actors.


Between October 2017 and December 2018, more than 63,000 individuals and about 134,000 participants have benefitted from the services of community centres and local initiatives. More than 7,800 persons with special needs and vulnerabilities have been reached. In total 86.9 per cent of the beneficiaries interviewed in a sample survey rate the overall quality of the services of community centres as very good (63.5 per cent) and good (23.4 per cent). The Community Centres and Local Initiatives Project (CLIP) aims to reach more than 130,000 refugees and members of host communities, including 61,000 vulnerable and at-risk persons, by the end of 2020. 25 capacity development measures and 30 exchange formats between state and non-state actors will have been implemented. In the context of the LIFT, the project also aims to implement 60 publicity activities to raise awareness of the situation and needs of vulnerable persons and groups. With its support to community centres and local initiatives, the project contributes to covering the needs of particularly vulnerable people, strengthening refugees’ and host communities’ resilience, developing their future prospects in Turkey, and increasing social cohesion between refugees and members of the host communities in the long run.

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