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YILDIRIM BEYAZIT UNIVERSITY
GRADUATE SCHOOL of SOCIAL SCIENCES
POVERTY and SOCIAL POLICY
POVERTY ALLEVIATION and SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
Prof. Dr. Erdal Tanas Karagöl
The significance of poverty has increased in both world and Turkey. The numbers of those
who stand in the need of help dramatically increased due to globalization. As a result social
assistance has also become substantial. Social assistance completes the gaps in social security
system and it has saving purpose and some psycho-social benefits. Notably, social assistance
can also be seen as that it has been done as human rights, the product of a social solidarity and
the obligation of a state. This study analyses how social assistance employed in alleviating
poverty through its functions.
Historically, poverty is not a new problem. In every period of history, there has been poverty
in every country. Poverty is an unwanted characteristic of any civilization, and its alleviation
is regarded as a vital purpose of the government and interconnected institutions. Economic
growth did not finish poverty as thought before. According to World Development Report
(2001) even though it was historically believed that economical growth is the key factor for
the reduction of poverty, there are still 2.8 billion people who live on less than 2 $ income per
day and 1.2 billion people live on less than 1$ income per day in the world. Today, poverty is
regarded as a worldwide economical and social fact due to its unmanageable growth in
breaking of the immediate growth of liberal capital accumulation and analytically supported
economical progress. Therefore countries in the world try to implement unlike social policies
to deal with poverty that are directed through established institutions. In the modern times one
of the major tools for dealing with poverty is social assistance. Social assistance is one of the
ordinary handy ways of building social balance in society by protecting the poor. By the
establishment of social assistance system, most of the states struggle to increase the living
conditions of the citizens with respect to their current situation by supplying in-kind or in cash
transfers. Hence, these aids are given in order to sustain the minimum welfare in society. The
purpose of this study is to show how well the social assistance fulfills this role. The ideal is
that if all social assistances were discarded there would be a noticeable level of poverty, but
when the social assistances are considered as part of household income, poverty is greatly
The structure of the study continues as literature review in second part, conceptual frame of
poverty in part three, conceptual frame of social assistance and relation with poverty in part
four, welfare state analysis in Turkey in part five, social assistance structure in Turkey in part
six and in part seven the effects of social assistance on beneficiaries are analyzed.
2. Literature Review
The two major study fields in this research are poverty and social assistance. Examining the
literature of the existing studies, it is important to point out the fact that researches on social
assistance in Turkey focus more on the institutions’ distribution structure of six social
assistances while there are very limited number of researches on the consequences and effects
of these assistances on the lives of beneficiaries. Alternatively, studies related to poverty in
Turkey generally emerge on institutional reports of State Planning Organization (DPT),
General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity (SYDV), Turkish Statistical Institute
(TÜİK) and researches of World Bank (WB) and United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) in Turkey. Other researches on poverty in Turkey also exist in the literature, but
these are more focusing on the structural and the theoretical analysis of poverty most at the
hypothetical level. So, it would not be deceptive to admit that there are limited resources on
the issue in general. Another concept that used in the research is the concept of welfare state.
The concept of welfare state is important for the study finding the effects of social assistance
on poverty alleviation. The basic theoretical framework of the study can be said to be shaped
by UNDP and WB conceptualizations of poverty. The complete bibliography of this study is
accessible at the end of the study.
3. Conceptual Frame of Poverty
Generally poverty means not being capable of supply basic human need so as to survive. Yet,
feature of formation changes due to social, environmental, economical conditions such as, the
meaning of basic human needs varies from country to country or people to people.
Furthermore, concept of basic need has a strong interrelation with growth. As the general
public develops, basic human needs turn out to be more complex, such as being unable to
reach education and health organizations which were not signs of poverty fifty years ago.
Accordingly, poverty wraps various diverse autonomous aspects that modify the meaning of
concept. As conditions change, the meaning of poverty also changes. Poverty was considered
as ‘incapable of work ’ in the 16th century of England. As the population of poor increased
though time the concept of poverty accepted as a social experience. Bauman mentions in his
book that today poverty is measured by consumption which shows another aspect for poverty
(Bauman, 1999). As a result, in modern era, poverty is regarded as a social matter. Nuance of
poverty may vary concerning developments in welfare level of country. So, with the intention
of deciding who is poor in the public or comparing different poverty conditions needs
empirical measuring concept. There are mainly two approaches which are absolute poverty
and relative poverty. According to TUIK (Turkish Statistical Institute), the absolute poverty is
the situation in which a household or an individual cannot reach the welfare sufficient to
continue their lives. On the other hand, the relative poverty is the state in which the individual
is below the average welfare level of the society. Absolute poverty connects with minimum
needs of the individuals and since the needs of individual change day by day, absolute poverty
may differ from generations to generations. Though, in a report, WB addresses that an
individual needs minimum 2400 kcal per a day in order to survive. According to WB, who
cannot afford to buy 2400 kcal are in absolute poverty. Furthermore, DPT states that for
underdeveloped countries, 1$ per person /day is accepted as an indicator of absolute poverty.
Relative poverty deems average welfare level of civilization. Level of income is considered
determining the level of the individual or household welfare. Therefore, whilst measuring the
relative poverty, income inequality in a given society becomes apparent. In other words, the
lower income inequality you have, the lower relative poverty will be resulted.
4. Conceptual Frame of Social Assistance
Social assistance exists under different names since the first ages of history. However, the
existence of the term ‘social assistance’ even not known for certain is the product of the era of
industrialization. Karataş states that in this respect the modern sense of social assistance
regained functionality in the process of industrialization especially in the process of redistribution of income. Fundamental objective of the social assistance system is to alter the
condition of being in need of something and help recipient to become a self-sufficient.
Accordingly, Taşçı (2010) states that what is expected from social assistance recipient are to
become a producer that taking care himself.
Nevertheless, social assistance was designed to focus on the vulnerable groups in the society
and the system is financed with tax. Social assistance system could be considered as poverty
relieving strategy. Furthermore, social assistance strives to reduce economic cost burden on
the poor. The first classification of poor and social assistance was recognized with 1601, Old
Poor Law. In relation to this law, people who are able to work are not poor but idle. In
contrast, people who are unable to work are poor. Conceptual meaning of social assistance
may also vary; in USA it is ‘safety net’ and in Europe it is welfare strategies. The difference is
appeared to be the product of various applications in social assistance.
There is conditional and unconditional social assistance. Conditional is mainly cash transfer to
poor households on the condition that those households make predetermined investments in
the human capital of their children. “Health and nutrition conditions generally require periodic
checkups, growth monitoring, and vaccinations for children less than 5 years of age; perinatal
care for mothers and attendance by mothers at periodic health information talks” (Fiszbein,
Schady, 2009). Unconditional social assistances are provided with no compensation or
stipulation because main purpose of unconditional social transfer is to dispose of economical
4.1 Relation with Poverty
When social assistance mentioned the well-known concept “poverty” comes to mind. İkizoğlu
believes that indeed, the concept of social assistance, in general, because of the process to
help the poor people in cash or ocular, reminds of poverty and poor people. In other words,
the main determinant of needing social assistance services is poverty. In this sense, social
assistance is characterized as the modern state is perceived as a requirement of the poorest
segments of the protective direction, social responsibility, and generally poor programs. On
the other hand, when compared the literature's use of poverty is newer than social assistance.
Koşar states that poverty is expressed as almost does not exist in books about social issues in
the period before 1960, there is not much about the social welfare in the literature of
sociology, except for some of the books and the literary world. Therefore, the concept of
poverty is very new, the history of meaning implied in today's concept of poverty can be met,
said the concept of social assistance. Poverty is considered, in general, things that come to
mind, however, anti-wealth that the misery of poverty, hunger, poverty, neediness, life of
constant struggle, the battle to survive, enough to meet the needs of basic and essential, with a
lack of sufficient assets, earnings-are states of being deprived of income. In other words,
poverty may be the common denominator of all those who are in need of help.
5.0 Poverty and Welfare State in Turkey
Welfare state is like a new pact in capitalist regime between state and citizens that social risks
were knobbed by state in counter to individual duties to state. As for the origin, social effects
of Great Depression in 1929 enforced state to take some safety measures such as social
transfer in opposition to severe poverty circumstances, illiteracy and poor health. One of the
functions of welfare state is caring individuals from social risks like poverty.
Human development index (Apaydın, 2011) pointers that states ranked in the course of their
life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living measures, Turkey is ranked in 83
amongst 169 states. The pointers of demography are a vital criterion for mapping poverty.
From the statistics of TUIK (2011) Turkish population is about to reach to 74 million in 2011
and 77% of its population lives in urban areas whereas 23% of population lives in rural.
Statistics divulge that Turkey has a young civilization that half of its population is under 30
years demonstrating the similar feature of the developing countries. As a member of UNDP
Millennium Development Goals in 2000, Turkey published a report on behalf of its provision.
The report reveals that poverty has decreased slightly in two decades in Turkey.
Retrieved From: Turkey Millennium Development Goals Report, State Planning Organization-2010
Clearly obstructed from the figure that food and non- food poverty was %28.3 in 1994 and
decreased to %17.1 in 2008. Likewise, food poverty decreased from 2.9% to 0.54 %
from1994 to 2008. Furthermore, extreme poverty, which indicates people live on less than 1
dollar per day, abolished by the year 2006. These pointers show that Turkey almost attained
its first target in millennium development goal which is halving the proportion of extreme
poverty. Nevertheless, food and non-food poverty increased to 18% as a product of the global
economical crisis in year 2009.
Table 1: Rates of Poor Individuals in Turkey
Retrieved From: TUIK (2009)
Table reveals that Turkey does not suffer from extreme poverty but rather suffer from relative
poverty. From the table extreme poverty can be understood by the ratio under the below 1$,
2.15 $ and 4.3 $ population that are decreasing regularly since 2002. On the other hand,
relative poverty based on expenditure almost settled constant through the same years. Income
distribution is another important determinant of poverty provision. The table below illustrates
broad information about the income distribution of Turkey.
Table 2: Distribution of Annual Personal Disposable Income by Quantiles of Household Population %
Retrieved From: Turkey Millennium Development Goals Report, State Planning Organization-2010
As it is clear from the table, there is a variation in Gini Coefficient in years representing the
uneven distribution of income in society. It dropped from 0.49 in 1994 to 0.38 in 2005. There
is enormous disparity in shares of income between the rich and poor in society such as; in
2007, the lowest %20 of the population shares % 5.8 of whole income whereas richest %20 of
the population shares the % 46.9 of whole income.
There have been turning points in the social welfare system. Splintered formation of social
security system was an apparent indicator of traditional welfare system in Turkey. This
fragmentation was based on occupation status. Furthermore, social security system principally
covers only formal work and disregards the majority of unregistered.
There is a fairly new debate of ‘new poverty’ in welfare transformation of Turkey particularly
after 2000. Essentially, new poverty refers to disintegration of poor into society, especially
into urban way of life. The term comes from rural declaration that Turkey practiced. Buğra
states that new poverty is a product of conditions that for the most part destroy the probability
of being integrated into urban. As a result, it is stated that this is a new form of poverty that is
enduring caused by disintegration of poor in to society.
Another watershed of Turkish Welfare State was practiced with Justice and Development
Party (AKP) regime after 2002. Conservative liberal ideology was the reference of AKP
government. Their ideology based on the partial interference of the state both in economic and
social scope. As said by this ideology, state should adjust and control them for creating equal
competition. The legacy of Özal government of charity and family institutions is also utilized
by the AKP governments.
Whereas, Buğra (2008) states that with AKP government perception of social right has
aroused. In addition Turkey experienced a very severe economic crisis that exposed severe
poverty. Besides, old-fashioned social balancing and risk management mechanisms like
family were not capable of dealing with this problem. Consequently, government took some
protections for poverty alleviation (Buğra, 2008). One of the indicators of this alleviation
process is dramatic escalation in distribution of coal and food assistance to poor.
To sum up, it could be said that the welfare state came into agenda with the 1961 constitution.
Before this time state tried to attain its economic alteration and left social risks within family
and charity organizations. In 1980’s, Turkey practiced liberalization process that liberal
conservative government established new institutions dealing with social issues. Though,
family institution and charity were still very significant and conversion of welfare state was
authenticated under this ideology. The determination of the government was to decrease the
6. Social Assistance Structure in Turkey
In this part of the study, structure of social assistance in Turkey is going to be designated
briefly. It will be focused on the central structure of the social assistance providing institutions
such as SYDGM and on the family aids which are usually under control of Social Assistance
and Solidarity Foundations (SYDV). Other social assistance providing institutions such as
SHÇEH will also be introduced.
6.1 Social Assistance Instructions in Turkey
6.1.1 Social Assistance Categories by Social Assistance and Solidarity Fund
Predominantly social assistance comes from Social Assistance and Solidarity Fund that was
established in 1986. Ultimately, this fund is used by all state social assistance institutions like
SYDGM and SHÇEK.
6.1.2 General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity
There are several institutions providing social assistance in Turkey such as SHÇEK,
Municipalities. Though, this study will focus on the General Directorate of Social Assistance
and Solidarity and its local administrations (SYDV) since they are central organization for
distributing social assistance in Turkey. The law 5263 established in 2004, General
Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity is appointed as main social assistance
providing institution in Turkey. Furthermore, it was mentioned in the 2006-2010 state action
plans, established by State Planning Organization (DPT), that General Directorate of Social
Assistance and Solidarity will have a central role on poverty alleviation policies.
Objectives of General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity designated as follows;
“It is aimed to reach existing social assistance programs to citizens who have economic and social
deprivation in a more efficient and faster way by restructuring of Fund administration as a General
Directorate. Social Assistance and Solidarity General Directorate as State's most important social
assistance and protection agency; fulfills states social responsibility throughout the country by
helping to citizens who do not have social security , orphaned and needy and also by supporting
employment-oriented training and projects.”
6.1.3 Social Assistance in Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation
Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundations (SYDV) are controlled by General Directorate
of Social Assistance and Solidarity and spread all around the Turkey, including rural and
urban regions, with over 950 local administration. These local institutions are providing social
assistances with respect to the policies that are produced by central government. SYDV are
using the Social Assistance and Solidarity Fund, each foundation receive resources from this
fund. There are also some voluntary contributions from rich individuals. However, the amount
of resource received from SASF is highly dependent on development rankings established by
State Planning Organization. Also the population of the province, unemployment rates, and
contribution to GDP are taken into account at the same time. There are different sorts of social
assistances distributed by SYDV. These include family assistances, health assistances and
6.1.4 Application to Social Assistance
The main obligation for being a social assistance beneficiary is not to be protected by any
social security schema. Another vital standard is evaluation of being indigence. Though, there
is no real clarification of being indigence in Turkey, since cost of living cannot be simply
measured and the term, cost of living, is extremely subjective. Social assistances delivered by
SYDV are based on self-application. When the people apply for social assistance from
SYDV, their personal data is checked over Social Assistance Information System (SOYBIS).
Purpose of this information system is the validation of social assistance applications. With
this, misuse of social assistance is tried to be prohibited and fair supply process to be attained.
Nevertheless, what if they have something and they are still indigent or they lie about their
living condition? Accordingly, there is another control mechanism that individuals are being
observed by SYDV staff at their house that is called home visit. Once applicant meet the
basics for applying social assistance on Social Assistance Information System, SYDV check
their data and send staff for seeing the living condition of applicant. After observation
procedure, SYDV staff writes a report on his observation at applicant house and send report to
the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity. If these institutions approve the
report, applicant becomes a beneficiary of social assistance.
6.1.5 Types of Social Assistances Provided by SYDV
18.104.22.168 Family Assistances
The purpose of this assistance is to improve the living standards of the families. It consists of
food aids, heating aids, sheltering aids and cash aids.
Table 3. Family Aids distributed by SYDV
Retrieved from: General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity annual report 2010
It is clear from the table that within three years period General Directorate of Social
Assistance and Solidarity allocated its 92 million TL to food aid in total. These aids can be in
cash transfer or in-kind transfers for meeting the basic needs of poor. If it is cash transfer,
individuals are given cheque twice a year. These cheques are valid only in some of the
markets. Furthermore, food beneficiaries are free to buy any food from these markets. Food
aids are distributed via SYDV and they control the type of aids whether it should be in kind or
in cash transfer.
Another vital family assistance is coal aids which are delivered from Turkish Coal Company
and distributed by SYDV. Each social assistance beneficiary family is given 500 kg coals per
year. Disbursements in delivery procedure are covered by Social Assistance and Solidarity
Sheltering aids are available to those who are living under unsuitable and morbid living
conditions in terms of sheltering. This type of assistance might be in-kind or in cash, however,
compared to food assistance and heating assistance, it has low beneficiary. This might be
related to expensive cost of housing and its improvement issues. This type of assistance is
also dispersed by SYDV.
Cash transfers are more commonly given periodically. The amount of money transferred to
poor is highly depended on a formula which basically calculates variables such as population,
unemployment rates etc. The main purpose of this aid is to improve the well-being of
individual and inspire them to take care of themselves. Generally, periodical cash transfers are
given for crucial conditions or high poverty conditions.
22.214.171.124 Health Assistance
People with no health insurance and Green Card are given this kind of assistance to cover
their health expenses. Though, payments given people with green cards are under control of
ministry of health since 2005. While this assistance is generally in cash, there are also in-kind
payments such as disabled citizens getting their wheelchairs, hearing aid and prosthesis via
this assistance. This sort of social assistance is used for reducing child death rates and child
disease. Consequently, state implemented conditional health assistance since 2003. These
transfers are dispersed in cash. The purpose of conditional health assistance is controlling the
health of child and mother. Therefore, payments are given in condition of child health
checkups. Moreover, payments are given to mother of children.
126.96.36.199 Education Supports
Great amount of resources allocated for education support from Social Assistance and
Solidarity Fund. These transfers are; training materials, education credits, sheltering,
transportation aids and conditional education aids. The main purpose of these assistances is to
increase the education level and supporting parity of opportunity. Conditional cash transfer is
one of the periodical transfers of SYDV. Recipients are expected to send their children to
school regularly and child checkup should be made in hospital. When these requirements are
met, SYDV transfers social assistance to mother of child. One of the most important matters
in this transfer is positive discrimination. Almost one million girls in preschool age cannot go
to school as a consequence of the gender breach. Therefore, with this conditional cash
transfer, parent of girls are given higher amount of money than boys (25 TL for each Girls /
20 TL for each Boys) for lessening the gender breach and inspiring families to send their girl
to school. These transfers are made one in two months and transfer continues until child
graduates from secondary school.
6.1.6 Social Services and Childcare Organization (SHÇEK)
SHÇEK is governed by the prime minister. In a historical fashion, it dates back to Ottoman
Empire. In modern era, SHÇEK started to distribute in-kind and in cash transfers with 1983
regulations. Generally, the purpose of this institution is to provide welfare for poor child and
their families. The institute offers several assistances such as; orphanages, elderly services,
cash transfers and family support.
The law no 5272 defines the purposes of municipalities that social assistances can be provided
by municipalities. The main purpose of this application is to build a protection for indigent
families. Several kind of social assistances are provided through municipalities such as; food
aids, heating aids, clothing, scholarship and health. Though, these are local assistances and the
type or amount of transfers can vary from zone to zone. It should be stated here that, in the
field research, municipality transfers were very extensive. Practically, all of the SYDV social
assistance beneficiaries were also benefiting from municipality assistances. Though,
measuring the effect of this aid is difficult because there is lack of joined and detailed
accounts of the system.
7. Effects of Social Assistance on Beneficiaries
In this part of the study, analysis of the field research data prepared by Apaydın in his thesis is
going to be deduced through theoretical background aforementioned. In his research Apaydın
interviewed with twenty-five beneficiaries about the effects of social assistance of Altındağ
Social Assistance and Solidarity Foundation in Ankara, Turkey.
According to SYDV officers interviewed stated that the “poor” description of the state
remains as outward and vague since it does not unweave the concept of indigence. One of the
social assistance specialist mentioned that;
“In the determination process of beneficiaries, the control mechanism of
poverty remains as going to homes and checking out the reliability and
accuracy of their declarations which were previously and initially inspected
on SOYBİS system. However, if the applicant passed SOYBİS search then
it is highly probable that this applicant will benefit from the assistance”
This process indicates a critical spot that “the poor” assisted by the state is determined by
means of uneven measurement of absolute poverty. Furthermore, the measurement stays too
broad for the division between absolute and relative poverty so that both the real indigent –
absolute poor- and relatively poor people are supposed to benefit from the same types of
assistance. It is obvious that these unclear and broad definitions of poverty and the
measurement criterion of the institution bring out two considerable results. First, it becomes
impossible to categorize the poor and analyze their specific needs and second, deriving from
the first condition, provided assistance remains inefficient since distributed amount for per
family diminish though the number of systematically poor families increases. The majority of
the respondents stated that they also benefited from other social assistance institutions.
Some of the responses in the interviews:
Illiterate and abandoned by her husband, 47 years old women said that;
“Surviving with only SYDV social assistances is almost impossible. I
have to apply to other institutions because these assistances are not
A 35 years old women, graduated from primary school and her husband is jailed, mentioned that;
“I receive assistances from different institutions. For example; I
receive heating assistance from municipality. Because it is
insufficient, why would I bother if it was sufficient?”(Apaydın, 2011)
A 34 years old woman proves the above mentioned;
“I applied all social assistance providing institutions that I know but
few of them are giving me social assistance. It is really insufficient.
Do you know any other social assistance providing institutions? I have
just applied all institution. They can decide whether I need or not. I do
not hide anything; they can come and see my house.” (Apaydın, 2011)
The theoretical uncertainty of who is poor could also be seen from the statements of the
correspondents.The beneficiaries declared that (Apaydın, 2011)social assistances they receive
are very effective on their poverty situation. Accordingly social assistances have essential
significance in survival of beneficiaries that their poverty is decreased by social assistance.
Additionally, food and heating needs of beneficiaries are completely provided by these social
assistances. “They have no resource to buy extra food or heating materials, thus their poverty
condition is highly dependent on social transfers made by SYDV.” (Apaydın, 2011)
Some of the other statements of beneficiaries:
The statements of 52 years old illiterate women explicitly define how effective social assistance
on their poverty;
“I have nothing except that social assistance I receive from SYDV. I
wouldn’t know what to do if I don’t receive social assistance from
here. Even, we make our bread at home with the flour that was given
with social assistance.” (Apaydın, 2011)
48 years old women, illiterate and mother of 3 children, said that;
“It reduces our poverty but we are still poor. They give me food, coal
that I cannot buy with my money. My husband works at construction
but we cannot survive with it. Between, he can works only in
summer.” (Apaydın, 2011)
Nevertheless, it is clear that there is reliance on social assistance. Hence, the main purpose of
the social assistance cannot be attained, that is helping poor to help themselves, but it is the
truth that these assistances are very vital on their poverty situation. When the beneficiaries
were asked the effects of the social assistance on their poverty, some of the answers were:
43 years old women, abandoned by her husband mentioned that;
“It has a significant importance for my survival. My husband
abandoned me 5 years ago. I cannot survive without these aids. I have
4 children but none of them taking care of me. They don’t even call
me. At least I got food by these aids otherwise I would die starving.”
44 years old women whose husband is bedridden said that;
“Of course it has an effect on our poverty. My husband is bedridden,
he cannot work. It decreases out poverty a little but we are still in need
of food. I cannot imagine what would I do, if those aids cut down.”
Another important feature of this group is the crime rate. At least one member of a family in
this dependent group is jailed. This condition increases their reliance to social assistance since
they have to take care of jailed member of family.
Some of the other responses:
A 35 years old women, graduated from primary school and her husband is jailed, mentioned that;
“My husband is in jail for 2 years, I am in need of these assistances. I
have 3 children that I have to take care. I have to meet the needs of my
husband. This is why these aids are not sufficient for me.” (Apaydın,
The statements of 52 years old illiterate women, whose son is in prison, mentioned that;
“My son is jailed because of drug dealing. I have two daughter and
they got married. I am trying to give some amount of money to my
son. He is in prison for 3 years. Before he was jailed, he used to take
care of me. I wasn’t in need of social assistance. But, now, I can’t
even find a bread to eat.” (Apaydın, 2011)
The interviews disclose that the beneficiaries recognize social assistance as “a good thing that
supports indigent people so as to make them survive. It is important to point out the fact that
no beneficiaries perceive those aids as “rights”. Generally beneficiaries do not find the
assistances adequate for their needs. Apaydın also expresses that most of the respondents
express that they take those kinds of aids also from municipalities or other NGO type of
institutions. From this it can be said that there is no control mechanism which inspects
whether beneficiaries get assistance from other institutions. In that sense, disconnection
between institutions decreases the effectiveness of poverty alleviation since it allocates higher
resources and encourages dependency culture.
Municipalities provide package products and SYDV provide cheques that could only be used
in some markets. Some of the beneficiaries said that the aid package products may not
respond to their specific needs as users. For instance, a diabetic beneficiary cannot consume
sugary products in the package so that these kind of misused products are distributed to
neighbors by them or they are thrown away.
48 years old diabetic patient women, illiterate and mother of 3 children, stated that;
“My next door neighbor is poor, poorer than me. I am a diabetic
patient. I give all sugar including foods to that neighbor or other
neighbors. Sometimes, I throw away some of the packages. They
always give the same amount of product, same brand and same foods.
I wish they can change that. They should ask me about my needs.”
Social assistance of SYDV is thought to be more efficient on poverty reduction by
beneficiaries since they feel themselves free to decide on and buy their specific needs up to a
certain level. All participants can be identified as caught by poverty trap and these individuals
have no resource and no chance to create a resource to get rid of poverty.
Turkish welfare system is elucidated. One of the most important welfare institutions in
Turkey is SYDV. Institutional structure of social assistance system is identified and how
poverty is alleviated through social assistance. Furthermore, types of social assistance,
purpose of social assistances and application process has been identified. It would not be
unfair to say that the circle formed by the system brings out some clienteles relations between
beneficiaries and the state since it is picked out that the state does not set up long term
relations with beneficiaries and just provides the service to them as they are the clients
without expecting any contributions in return for the assistance. That’s why; it cannot go
beyond obtaining numeric and economical improvements in poverty rates rather than
removing social causes and effects of poverty in long run. The condition might be linked as a
real stand to the fact of absolute poverty is almost zero while there is still a current poverty
problem within the country. The unreturned relation that the state created over social
assistance causes a deeper conclusion of dependency culture as one of the major reasons
behind reproduction of poverty among beneficiaries. Under these circumstances, even though
social assistance as unconditionally given helps beneficiaries for a temporary, periodical relief
in lives of beneficiaries, it, in fact, does not directly arbitrate for the permanent overcoming of
poverty. In its place, a kind of reproduction of poverty is continued to be derived over this
dependency. Additionally, while beneficiaries cannot throw off their economical poverty
(unemployment, limited access for money and better living conditions etc.) in the long run,
they also are unable to break “culture of poverty” which is one of the causes of continuation
of poverty due to being locked up by their particular social and cultural conditions. So, it can
be stated that social assistance might not be so competent for the achievement of long term
goals in poverty alleviation.
As for the suggestion, state should rebuild its definition of poor. This definition should
include the social and economical background of poor. Moreover, it should not be unclear
definition that target individuals should be defined in detail for each type of social assistance.
As so, distributed social assistances would have higher effect on poverty, since, current
definition of poor is very external that state cannot precisely target who the poor is.
Accordingly, social assistance cannot maintain its function and consume more resources.
Another development can be achieved by elastic social assistance. Social assistances should
be elastic that beneficiaries can decide what they need and quantity of social assistance should
be considered through total member of nuclear family. This transform in distributing device
leads to higher effects on poverty because beneficiaries cannot use some of the products
depending on their health condition or the needs of family. So, needs of beneficiaries should
be acknowledged noticeably by correct policy method.
In Turkey there exist institutions providing social assistance both in public and private sphere.
In essence, these assistances are completing each other by providing diverse needs of
beneficiaries. Though, they also provide same social assistance to beneficiaries. In that sense,
state should build up a network including all public and private social assistance providing
institutions. By establishing a network between public and private institutions, state can
achieve better poverty alleviation since individuals can be in need of clothes instead of food
which is not provided by state institutions but private social assistance providing institutions.
So, different institutions can direct beneficiaries to other social assistance providing
institutions and meet their needs. With this network, state can also achieve improvement on
repeated social assistance that individuals can only benefit from one institution for one type of
social assistance. So, state not only decreases its allocated resources but also indirectly
encourage beneficiaries to join in economical life.The view of beneficiaries on social
assistances that is surviving with the assistance must be eradicated. That’s why state should
provide social assistance in return for an action of beneficiaries. This return can be a social
job that enforces beneficiaries to identify social assistance not as a gift or unconditional
transfer. By this way, state can also get rid of the norms of culture of poverty, since
beneficiaries would be encouraged to join society both in economical and social ways.
In a nutshell, even if social assistance perceived as inadequate by the beneficiaries, the social
assistance is very vital for poverty alleviation in Turkey. Regardless of all those debates and
literature, in-kind transfers have considerable importance on beneficiaries. Additionally,
although social assistance decreases poverty, it doesn’t enforce poor to struggle for their
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