Operating in the African country since 2011, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) seeks to erase the image of foreign aid agencies left in Somalia. The agency's top official in the country says their concept of developmental projects is based on a win-win model between the country where it operates and the country it represents. The group said it differs from a Western-style supercilious development model.
"We define our work as a development cooperation model rather than a development aid concept," TIKA coordinator in Somalia, Ilhami Turus, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Turkey's state development agency celebrated 30 years since its establishment earlier this month. Since 2011, it has implemented different projects in Somalia from agriculture to health, from infrastructure and education to capacity-building development.
Turus said the group has carried out sustainable development projects with the same belief and effort to stand by the Somali people and its state. "We have built roads, installed road solar lights in Mogadishu, sent students to be educated in Turkey, built a state-of-the-art training and research hospital, Somalia Civil Aviation Center, egg poultry farming, installed greenhouses and laboratory at different universities and built the Somali parliament building in Mogadishu," said Turus. He said all of the projects will contribute and support the Somali people and the development of the country.
In November, TIKA cooperated with Somalia's First Lady Saynab Moallim to distribute wheelchairs to hundreds of residents living with disabilities in different regions to support and increase their opportunities.
TIKA also carries out humanitarian aid and social and cultural projects in Somalia. Under the coordination of the Turkish Embassy, the TIKA chief said it helped thousands of people affected by climate shocks such as the drought that is currently wreaking havoc across the country, causing an influx of displacements and killing thousands of livestock. "We implemented many urgent humanitarian aid projects together with our other institutions such as the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay), Turkish Diyanet Foundation (TDV) and Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). We will continue to support humanitarian aid projects and social and cultural projects in Somalia," he said.
TIKA also supports cultural activities as it helps the Somali National theater team go to Turkey to support filming capabilities that the agency hopes will pave the way for the Somali film industry to thrive again after decades of civil strife.
Turus said Somalis are very hard-working and intelligent people. From agriculture to animal husbandry, from tourism to technique, he said Somalia actually has "great potential." But he noted terrorism, civil war, climatic shocks and crises are constant obstacles to the emergence of potential and the development of the country. "We aim to help Somalia's development by improving the situation as much as possible. We continue our work. Not only TIKA, but many Turkish institutions are operating in Somalia and we will continue to work together to support the development of the brotherly country Somalia."
When the world closed its eyes and turned its backs on Somalia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife Emine Erdoğan visited in 2011 at a time when Somalis were dying because of a famine that claimed more than 20,000 lives and displaced millions.
He said Turkey extended a hand of brotherhood and friendship to Somalia and brought the attention of the world to Somalia and called for help to curb the famine. "Afterward, Turkey, with its many institutions, came to Somalia and rushed to help," he said.
Turkish humanitarian aid organizations and development agencies like TIKA, Red Crescent and others are conducting development and humanitarian aid activities throughout Somalia as a devastating drought hit nation which aid groups described as the worst drought in the country in decades. He said the Turkish Armed Forces have established a training base in Somalia and are sharing their experience and knowledge derived from Turkish military insights with Somali soldiers to support their fight against terrorism.
Thanks to Erdoğan’s visit, the Mogadishu Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Training and Research Hospital carries out health services and successful surgeries and continues to train health personnel and employ workers at the facility. He said Somalia now is in a very good position compared to Somalia in 2011 and he hopes it will be much better. "I hope the Somali people and government will join hands and work together and produce much more for Somalis. Turkey will always continue to stand by its brothers," he said.
TIKA supports history, culture, and tourism projects worldwide. It said it has contributed much to the tourism sector in Somalia as it has conducted many development projects. Turus acknowledged insecurity in parts of the country and said that working in the tourism sector is essential to ensure stability, peace, and security. "Hopefully, Somalia will advance in this field and together, we will solve a lot of problems in the tourism sector of this country," he said.
The agency also carries out projects related to fishing and maritime activities in Somalia, including providing fishing equipment and supplies to fishermen in Mogadishu as well clothing and other materials to support personnel in emergencies in the vastness of the Indian Ocean. "Modern fishing training had been given for these fishermen. TIKA always carries out sustainable projects for employment and development in Somalia and will continue to do so."
TIKA has built a modern greenhouse and provided equipment to the Hargeisa University in Somaliland to help students of the Faculty of Agriculture, which will benefit approximately 300 pupils. "The students will receive theoretical education that will reinforce the practices they do in the greenhouse," he said.
He added the Turkish state development agency supports the Somali National University (SNU) in Mogadishu by building a sports field for students and a place where they can have graduation ceremonies and other social activities and sports. "TIKA will continue to support Somalia's education, development, agricultural sectors."