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close this bookLiving Conditions of Low-income Older Persons in Human Settlements UNCHS (Habitat) (HABITAT, 1999, 38 p.)
close this folderPART 3
close this folderIV. COUNTRY CASE STUDIES
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Ankara, Turkey

Professor Dr. Rusen Keles, Director of the Centre for Urban Studies at Ankara University organized the Survey which was carried out by three members of the Department of City and Regional Planning in Gazi University including Ms. Nilgun Gorer who later attended the Workshop.

The older people interviewed lived in 8 squatter colonies from 5 to 15km from the centre of Ankara. The colonies ranged in size from only 3Ha to 150Ha. and were characterized as “old, crowded, high density squatter settlements”. All of the people interviewed lived in houses of which seven were located on steep hillsides and 3 in wetlands. Both water and air pollution conditions were noted and 4 were adjacent to open dumps. Some had road access, but most were reached by paths or stairways.

Other than the adverse environments, the living conditions did not seem as bad as those found in other country surveys. All houses were built of brick, and 8 had two or three rooms and two had 4 or more rooms. The areas surveyed were all served by public water and sewer lines and electricity. Public waste collection and police and fire protection services were provided. Hospitals and health clinics were within 1 or 2km. of some homes, but others were 5 or 10km distant. However, only one or two people reported the existence of services specifically for senior citizens. Also, no government programmes for housing or community improvement were noted.

A majority of those interviewed were women. Six persons were in their 60s and 5 were in their 70s. One was over 80. All were living with their spouses and had families of 4 to 6 people. Although most of the respondents said their health was fair or good, 4 complained of disability in walking, 3 in their sight, 2 in hearing, and 4 used crutches. Most said they had lived in their houses for over ten years.

One of the residents said he had a job doing car repair. All others said they had pensions or social security payments, which 4 said were insufficient to live on. Many also complained that the cost of water and fuel (coal) was excessive and beyond their means.

Difficult living problems cited included poor access to their dwelling and lack of transport. (However, a majority reported they used public transport to get to shops, mosques, and health clinics, and that bus fares were reduced for elderly persons) 4 reported there was a lack of health services and shops. Only one person mentioned lack of safety and security. There were only a few responses to how they would improve their living conditions: 5 requested more financial support or social security, 4 for improving their house, and 3 for a more healthy environment.

NOTE: By Ms. Nilgun Gorer in response to some questions regarding the above summary:

“The concept of squatter housing in Turkey is different from that in Asian and Latin American countries. In Turkey, until the 1980’s squatter housing was an individual process in which most was built by users on government land, usually on steep sites with access problems. These areas, called ‘gecekondu’ were occupied by individuals who built with second hand bricks, windows and doors, etc. The ‘gecekondu’ areas were legitimate and were provided with municipal services. After that squatters became a speculative investment process organized by the ‘land mafia’. In the mid-80s another process called ‘redevelopment’ turned the old squatter sites into middle-high income residential neighbourhoods of high rise buildings.”

Finally some comments on aids provided by the City of Ankara. The public bus services are free from 10AM to 4PM for persons over 60. The municipality also provides health care, cleaning and some home repairs to the elderly poor. Discounts of 40% in water bills and natural gas are provided. (However, there is no natural gas service in the poor settlements surveyed)