Two weeks ago, an earthquake hit the Turkish province of Elazığ claimed 41 lives and plunged the country in a deep sorrow. According to the Kandilli Observatory, an Istanbul-based research institute, the earthquake’s magnitude was 6.8. Elazığ is a city that is located right on the Eastern Anatolia fault line. But despite warnings from scientists and seismologists that an earthquake could occur in that specific province, necessary precautions were not taken.

Turkey has experienced worse earthquakes: that of Van in 2011 and that of İzmit in 1999. Needless to say that Turkey is an earthquake-prone country. A discussion over the urgent necessity to invest in infrastructure and develop policies to raise awareness has been going on for many years. Yet the recent earthquake in Elazığ demonstrates that these necessary measures were not taken. At, we asked questions in our February survey to see how prepared the society is in the event of an earthquake.

In the survey, we asked our attendants a total of three questions. The first question was “Is your home earthquake-resistant?” and attendants were asked to pick one out of five options that reflects their circumstances. Based on our results, the percentage of attendants that have conducted an earthquake test for their homes was only 26.9%. On the other hand, 64% of attendants have never gotten an earthquake test for their homes. Interestingly, even though the majority of the society did not conduct an earthquake test, 66.4% of society believes that their home is earthquake resistant. In fact, 43.7% of attendants stated that they believe their homes are earthquake resistant even though they never conducted an earthquake test. This statistic is telling of our country’s vulnerability with regards to earthquakes. Almost half the country did not get its homes tested but is still confident that its homes are earthquake-resistant. 

The second question in our survey had to do with examining how prepared we are as citizens, in the event of an earthquake. Aside from infrastructure improvements, we, as citizens, need to take certain precautions. Getting our homes tested is one of these precautions. Preparing an earthquake emergency kit and getting the mandatory DASK (Turkish Natural Catastrophe Insurance Pool) insurance are other examples. We asked our attendants “Which of the following precautions did you take against a possible earthquake?”, and requested them to give a “yes” or “no” answer to four statements. Based on our results, the percentage of attendants who prepared an earthquake emergency kit was 33,8%. Additionally, the percentage of attendants who got their mandatory DASK insurance was 46,7%. Lastly, a whopping 41,4% of attendants stated that they did not take any precautions despite awareness that they live in an earthquake zone. 

The third and last question of our survey measured public opinion on urban transformation projects that were implemented in recent years, especially around Istanbul. The total percentage of attendants that found these urban transformation projects to be satisfactory was 25,4%. On the other hand, the total percentage of attendants who found these projects to be unsatisfactory was 56.6%. Lastly, 19% of attendants do not have an opinion on the matter. Overall, one cay that public opinion regarding urban transformation projects is negative. What is more, individual precautions have not been sufficiently undertaken. Therefore, our research demonstrates that Turkey is not prepared for earthquakes at both an infrastructure and individual level.