Industrialization, a growing economy and the search for better jobs and services have driven the Turkish population to migrate to urban areas. The number of people living in urban areas in Turkey today stands at 90 per cent – this translates to more than 60 million people, approximately 30 per cent of which are children.

UNICEF Turkey’s Çocuk Dostu Şehirler Girişimi (Child Friendly Cities) initiative started in 2014 to address challenges facing children in urban areas. It first stared as a project, funded jointly by IKEA Turkey and the UNICEF Turkish National Committee, in 10 municipalities in the country: Luleburgaz-Kırklareli, Mamak-Ankara, Manisa, Bornova-Izmir, Mersin, Giresun, Bitlis, Ispir-Erzurum, Eyyubiye-Sanliurfa, and Yuregir-Adana.

The initial project ended in March 2016 and the UNICEF Turkey Office used the lessons learned from this initial phase to adopt the CFCI framework in its 2016-2020 country programme. Today, the Turkey Country Office implements the Initiative in partnership with municipalities, along with other strategic partners including the Ministry of Interior and Union of Municipalities.

Between 2016-2020, the initiative is being expanded to include 150 municipalities, at varying levels of engagement, targeting 10,000 children directly and 2 million children indirectly. Objectives of this expanded initiative aim to:

  • Ensure municipalities have the knowledge for evidence-based policy and programme design to realize child rights at the local level;
  • Benefit children through increased fiscal space and more efficient programming at the local level;
  • Empower young people at local level to advocate for child rights;
  • Promote municipalities learning from each other’s knowledge and experience on Child Friendly Cities initiative;
  • Improve access to play and leisure for children in disadvantaged locations.

Supporting municipalities in the current context, at a time when Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population in the world – 3.6 million refugees including more than 3 million Syrian refugees as of November 2017 –  has special importance to ensure that the needs of over 1.5 million refugee children are met at the local level. The CFCI serves as a strategic platform to provide support to municipalities for sustainable service provision in a protracted crisis setting.

© UNICEF Turkey

Population: 78,741,053
Pop. under 18: 22,870,683


Expanding to about 150 municipalities in 2016-2020

Number of children targeted: 10,000 directly; 2,000,000 indirectly


Video: Çocuk Dostu Şehirler


Iraz Öykü Soyalp
Chief of Social Protection

Region: East Europe/Central Asia; Topics: Inclusion, Participation, Play/Leisure, Protection