"Prepare before it’s too late": learn to live with earthquakes

Icons use case study city info


Kocaeli (Province)

Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

City Government, Local Government, National Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Research Institutes / Universities

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Metropolitan Area

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2012/01

After the Marmara earthquake in 1999, the City of Kocaeli decided that living with risk cannot be business as usual. The city is using risk mapping to revisit its development priorities. Moreover, the city is engaging the community in innovative public awareness efforts.

Kocaeli has in the recent past suffered from a severe earthquake, which destroyed great parts of the city and region, killing some 18,000 people and wounding numerous others out of a total population of some 1.6 million. As a result, the city decided to engage various planing, research and education activities to reduce its vulnerability. To this end, it established a new programme entitled “Prepare before it’s too late” which started in early 2012. It combines two distinct but complementary strands in a single centre. The first is a comprehensive seismological monitoring facility through which data is collected and risks are analysed ("the centre"). The second is a broad-based citizen education component.

One specific innovation is the way the programme coordinates the emergency management agencies, including NGOs, universities, research centres, and local government agencies. The education component focuses particularly on children, with the use of theatre in primary schools as an imaginative way of raising the awareness of youngsters. Since January 2012 the initiative has reached more than 20,000 students, including 500 disabled children, and over 3500 people have visited the centre. The innovative approach aims also to be a source of learning and replication by other municipalities and their partners, and has already led to interest from other cities.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Guangzhou Award

This project was awarded the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2012.

Kocaeli (Province), Turkey

Size and population development
1,780,055 (as of 2015)

Main functions
At the crossroad between Asia and Europe, Kocaeli is a busy sea road.

Main industries / business
One of the most industrialized provinces in Turkey (refinery, shipbuilding, automobiles, cement , chemicals)

Political structure
Provinces are administered by an appointed governor (vali) from the ministry of interior

Administrative structure
Kocaeli province is divided into 12 districts with the capital district of İzmit

Kocaeli is located inside the active seismic belt of the Marmara Region. The city was the epicentre for the 1999 Marmara Earthquake which affected all the region and caused some 18,000 deaths.

Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality started its pilot programme “Prepare before it’s too late” in January 2012. With the establishment of a seismological monitoring and earthquake education centre, the aim of the progamme is to monitor, evaluate, analyze, solve and archive the characteristics of earthquakes via data gathered from 23 different ‘ground motion stations’.  The objective of gathering data from the region is to facilitate the task of developing a Local Earthquake Database, Earthquake Risk Maps, an Emergency Response Plan, an Earthquake Resistant Construction Plan as well as an Efficient Seismological Monitoring system. 

Besides the monitoring activities, the programme also intends to educate citizens and boost their awareness through various activities such as theatre, seminars and lectures.

The project directly affects three institutions (the project partners) and more than 1.5 million people living in the metropolitan region of Kocaeli.

1. Education

The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey is the authority responsible to monitor seismological movement in the country. In the model supported by the Presidency, educational and dissemination activities use to stay in the background. 

Instead, the local programme in Kocaeli has started with theatre, training (theoretical and practical) educational and dissemination activities for the population. Earthquake education has been organized in primary schools. A theatre, whose name is ‘Moving World’, performs all around the city and has managed to reach approximately 20,000 students so far. Thanks to the special program for disabled children, hundreds of them have benefited from dedicated courses. Applied training has also been run by using an earthquake simulator (three dimensional quake tray) to simulate an earthquake environment.  

2. Monitoring

The Local Earthquake Database has been generated according to the model of the existing National Database. A lot of meetings and technical study visits hold by Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Institutions as well as the University of Bosporus have provided training programs for the technical staff. The data collected from 23 stations feed the national earthquake database as well as the local network which is the first to be run by a local authority in Turkey.

Kocaeli Seismological Monitoring and Earthquake Education Centre project is running in partnership with Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality (KBB), Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and Kocaeli Chamber of Industry (KOSANO). The centre as well as the 23 stations have been financed by these three organizations. The Chamber of Industry undertook the coordination among the private industrial sector; the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency provided technical help during the start up phase to the Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality by making 6 technical staff members available. 

Other institutions participate as associated partners in the programme:

  • The University of the Bosporus provides technical education to the technical staff,
  • The Turkish Scientific And Technical Researches Institution provides technical expertise to run the centre,
  • The City Council’s disable and youth assemblies take part in enhancing civic engagement,
  • According to the agreement signed between the Kocaeli National Education Directorate and the Metropolitan Municipality, the two institutions are responsible for disseminating knowledge among the pupils.

The main outputs of the project are as follow:  

  • The “Local Earthquake Network and Seismologic Monitoring System” has been established.  
  • The data gathered from the centre have been used as legal base for the law of “reformation of the lands under the risk of disaster”.
  • In case of an earthquake, the early warning data will be shared with the private sector in order to implement the “emergency action plan”.
  • With the cooperation of the research centre and universities, modeling studies will be carried out to predict the consequences of an earthquake on the territory.
  • An Earthquake Master Plan will be developed, using these seismological data.
  • With the help of the education division, the awareness among citizens against earthquake has been raised.

The theatre has reached more than 20,000 pupils (within two years) and the centre has been visited by approximately 3,500 people. Also, 500 children and their parents got information about earthquake and prevention as well as first aid techniques thanks to the "disabled children program".  

Printed and visual media have helped increasing the awareness about the centre and keeping earthquake reality warm. 

Beyond scientific parameters such as azimuth, epicentral distance, depth of focus, coordinates, richter local magnitude used in the seismological centre, the number of visitors who attended the centre and the number of people reached by the initiative are regularly measured by experts. These statistics are used as a parameter to evaluate the success of the programme in terms of objectives reached.

Beyond the bureaucratic obstacle, the prejudices of people who experienced the 1999 Marmara earthquake were an associated difficulty. As a result, the focus of the programme has been set on education to overcome the reluctance of some people to participate.

The programme should be evaluated in terms of innovation, and benefits for other cities, regions, communities and local governments:  

  1. The structure of the partnership: The project has a multi-partnered structure. Through the programme, new managerial cooperation has been initiated under the leadership of the Local Government, the Central Administration (Emergency Management Presidency) and the Chamber of Industry. Other stakeholders such as NGOs, Universities, Research Centres (TUBİTAK), Private Sector Representatives, City Council and The National Education Directorate of the City have also taken part in the project as associate partners.
  2. Providing opportunity for local governments to take part in activities that fall outside the scope of their authority: The centre serves as a model for the state for further enacting in that sense.  
  3. Serving as a model for other cities: The centre has gathered know-how regarding to the seismologic and educational aspects and is ready to share its knowledge with other local authorities.

After less than one year, a lot of representatives from other local governments, universities, foreign countries, and sister cities of the metropolitan municipality have visited the centre and shared technical information. Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality also uses its official press (newsletters, social and visual media) to disseminate the initiative.

- Prepare Before It’s Too Late: Learn To Live With Earthquake, Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovation, (Accessed 21 April 2016)

- Prepare Before It’s Too Late: Learn To Live With Earthquake, Urban Innovation Database, (Accessed 21 April 2016)

- Kocaeli, Urban Innovation Database, (Accessed 21 April 2916)

On the Map

Map placeholder

Want to know more about this project?

Guangzhou Award
Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou Award

Institution | Urban Award

Photo gallery

Related case studies

Co-operative Glasgow
Glasgow, United Kingdom

Co-operative Glasgow

The City of Glasgow is identifying effective and sustainable ways of addressing economic and social challenges by supporting cooperatives and social enterprises and devolving power to residents.

eKhaya : an urban regeneration project in Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa

eKhaya : an urban regeneration project in Johan...

Through community mobilization, the eKhaya neighbourhood regeneration program has influenced the re-development of other declining areas in the City of Johannesburg.

Lisbon Local Development Strategy for Priority Intervention Areas
Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Local Development Strategy for Priority ...

This City of Lisbon strategy supports local projects and municipal partnerships that improve the social and territorial cohesion of deprived neighbourhoods.