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Evaluating UNICEF’s Response to the Earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye

We are analysing what worked – and what didn’t – in UNICEF’s response to the earthquakes that occurred in Syria and Turkey in February 2023 to inform future sudden-onset emergency responses


Our evaluation assesses UNICEF’s performance against the needs on the ground and UNICEF’s corporate commitments (CCCs), mandates and internal emergency procedures.

Findings from the evaluation will inform programming, advocacy and operational decisions (including emergency preparedness) to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are being met during the recovery phase.

Helping UNICEF improve its response in complex humanitarian settings

About UNICEF’s response

In February 2023, powerful earthquakes – and subsequent aftershocks – hit Southeast Turkey and Northwest Syria, causing widespread damage and destruction in both countries, including loss of human lives.

The crisis hit during the peak of winter and left hundreds of thousands of people without access to shelter, food, water, heaters and medical care in freezing temperatures. Many essential services such as schools and hospitals were damaged or destroyed.

UNICEF activated a L3 Corporate Emergency Activation Procedure for the earthquake response for six months. A systemwide L3 Scale-Up activation deploys all possible means and resources to urgently respond at scale in the earthquake-affected areas.

UNICEF’s response aimed to address the immediate life-saving and urgent humanitarian needs of girls, boys, adolescents, and families, including services in WASH, education, health and nutrition and psychosocial first aid.

Our role

We are assessing UNICEF’s earthquake response within Turkey and Syria (including Government Controlled Areas and Non-Government Controlled Areas) against:

  • Appropriateness
  • Effectiveness
  • Connectedness
  • Coherence

We are also evaluating the extent to which the cross-cutting issues of gender, equity, PSEA, climate change, accountability and human rights were systematically and meaningfully integrated into the response.

The evaluation will make recommendations for immediate actions and for future crises, as relevant.

Methods and approach

The evaluation will follow three core principles:

  1. Learning and utilisation-focused to generate practical solutions to support UNICEF offices to tackle challenges in the rollout of L3 emergency responses and improve the quality of their humanitarian response.
  2. Field-focused to add as much value as possible to improvements and innovations that benefit those most affected by emergency humanitarian crises.
  3. Participatory to ensure broad-based buy-in and ownership of the evaluation findings and recommendations by UNICEF stakeholders.

We will draw on a process evaluation to check actions taken against UNICEF benchmarks and an outcome evaluation to test UNICEF contributions to L3 response outcomes. Both approaches will draw on the body of evidence collected from the field through:

  • Document and literature review
  • Context analysis
  • Semi-structured key informant interviews (KIIs) with UNICEF staff, implementing and government partners, and settlement camp managers.
  • Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with earthquake-affected communities
  • Direct observations
  • Online survey for UNICEF personnel

Outcomes and impact

We aim to make UNICEF responses fit for purpose in the future, especially within the scope of rapidly evolving contexts. Our findings can be used to mainstream good practices and improve coordination policies, procedures and practices in the UNICEF Syria and Türkiye country offices, regional offices and various divisions in UNICEF headquarters (HQ).

We also hope the findings will be beneficial to other internal bodies, as well as other UN agencies, NGOs, donors and interested Member States.

We will be preparing one report for the two countries covered, which are adapted and contextualised to the specific environment, and an overarching report drawing on each country report and on thematic areas that have corporate-wide relevance.

Team members