We launched the Deep Poverty Action Fund in May 2021 to address deep poverty and widening inequalities in Turkey, which significantly worsened since the start of the pandemic. With the Fund, we supported the Mobile Food Bank Project within the Support Foundation for Civil Society’s Cemre Fund. The project, an initiative of previous grantees Basic Needs Association and Deep Poverty Network aims to deliver vital necessities and social support to families in need as part of the fight against deep poverty in Turkey.
Read below our interview:
How do you define poverty? Can you tell us about the most pressing needs of the groups you work with and the dimensions of poverty that you face when working with these groups?
Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon in which people’s access to their basic needs and their access to economic, social, political and cultural rights is restricted. Deep poverty is a situation in which social exclusion is added to the conditions of poverty. The groups we work with work in daily and insecure jobs, and face difficulties in accessing their basic needs and rights, including access to food.
According to the Deep Poverty Network’s data, 41% of the households that the network supports do not have any health insurance, 85% do not have access to adequate food, 74% have difficulty in purchasing baby food and diapers, 38.7% skip meals almost every day, 10% live in a shed or a tent, and 38.8% have faced the risk of losing their home at least once. Access to food, diapers, and safe shelter conditions emerge as the primary needs of the groups we work with.
Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon in which people’s access to their basic needs and their access to economic, social, political and cultural rights is restricted.
The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has made the struggle against poverty even more challenging. How has this situation affected the most vulnerable groups in society?
People who worked in daily and insecure jobs were the first group to lose their jobs. The social service systems of local governments and public institutions were caught unprepared. It took a long time to deliver aid as there were not enough resources and human power to meet the increasing needs. Since house visits are required for evaluation before providing support to applicants, people in need had to wait for a long time until house visits could start again. Unregistered workers could not benefit from unemployment benefits, which were provided to people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
You are implementing the Mobile Food Bank Project with our grant support. Can you tell us about the aim and activities of the project?
In our field visits, we observe that the access of families living in poverty to their basic needs is at greater risk with the pandemic. The need for regular food support became even more significant as we realised that the families are collecting food from supermarket dumpsters, skipping meals, and feeding their babies with sugar and water. The common goal of the Basic Needs Association and the Deep Poverty Network is to enable people to reach their needs in a fair and equal way, which formed the basis of the project.
Deep poverty is a situation in which social exclusion is added to the conditions of poverty.
Since people living in deep poverty have limited access to support markets due to discrimination, lack of ID, residence, and transportation budget, it is necessary to deliver support directly to their homes. With the project, we will provide regular basic needs support to at least 300 households in the Çekmeköy and Sancaktepe regions of İstanbul, through a mobile food bank. We will also follow up with the households regarding their needs in terms of education, employment, and social and psychological support and provide the necessary guidance. The Mobile Food Bank will be active throughout the year to provide for the needs of at least 300 households in different districts across Istanbul.
With the Mobile Food Bank project, the Deep Poverty Network and the Basic Needs Association are implementing a joint project for the first time. Can you tell us about the scope of your cooperation?
Within the scope of this cooperation, the Deep Poverty Network will identify families living in poverty and carry out the needs assessment and follow-up process. The Basic Needs Association will provide the needs and deliver the support directly to the families. The experience of the Basic Needs Association in providing basic needs products by reducing waste, combined with the field experience of the Deep Poverty Network, will improve the work of both organisations. Working in cooperation to find sustainable solutions against poverty, which is the common goal of both CSOs, will contribute to both organisations in this field.
Working in cooperation to find sustainable solutions against poverty, which is the common goal of both CSOs, will contribute to both organisations in this field.
With the project, you aim to employ a social worker to identify the needs of the families. In your experience, what are the fundamental needs of these families, and how do you plan to meet these needs?
People living in poverty or deep poverty face obstacles in accessing services and support in many areas, including access to food, shelter, health and public services, protection, justice, psychological support, and education. The social worker will work with the families to determine their needs and direct them to services offered by public institutions, municipalities and CSOs, and support them in accessing these services. Once their needs are determined we will continue to monitor the families’ access to social services. We also aim to carry out additional activities to meet these needs by implementing an evaluation process.
About TİDER and DYA
TİDER works to ensure that all people can meet their basic needs in a fair and equal manner and uses the food banking model as a crucial tool in combating hunger, poverty, and waste prevention. DYA, established by the Open Space Association in March 2020, has been working on disadvantaged families’ access to basic needs, such as food, hygiene materials and baby supplies by determining these needs through field visits.