The small, picturesque, Kiyikoy community located in the Kirklareli Province of northwestern Turkey is undergoing a transformation as the location in which the TurkStream gas pipeline comes onshore on Turkey's Black Sea Coast.
As part of the project, the TurkStream Company takes its social responsibilities seriously and aims to contribute to local communities that are affected by the project. In the case of Kiyikoy, the project team has completed 12 social responsibility projects to date, Sara Murphy, TurkStream’s senior expert for corporate social responsibility, explains.
Murphy told Anadolu Agency that her work with the TurkStream project, formerly known as the South Stream, began in 2012.
"With the stakeholder engagement process, we make sure our team implements the community investment program and this involves talking to local people with a stake in the project," Murphy said, adding that this commitment also involves contractors who are expected to be respectful of the rights of the local community when carrying out their work.
She said the TurkStream project has also a team to implement social investment projects in Russia where the pipeline starts.
She explained that part of the job of social engagement involves communicating with both experts and local communities to determine what is needed locally and then projects will be developed focusing on these needs.
She added that local engagement is important to build trust between all stakeholders for the success of these projects. The process involves aligning a group of projects with the company's policies, and after management approval, the team implements the projects.
Murphy said the project management approves a social investment program once every year.
"We have completed 12 projects so far and we have more than 20 projects scheduled for Kiyikoy until the completion of construction in 2019 end," she said.
- 7/24 contact with local people
Emre Kapusuz, the community liaison officer for TurkStream, also stressed that as a team they are in contact with local people seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
"I’m like a bridge between the community and the project team. At the beginning there were negative voices against the project, but in time we explained the project and helped people understand our goal here," he said.
Kapusuz said many talks took place with the local community prior to the project start, which ensured that the needs and problems in Kiyikoy were made known.
"After that [process], we worked on several projects and developed them in several categories, such as health, infrastructure and education," he said.
To enhance community health, Kapusuz said they donated medical care devices, such as electrocardiogram (EKG) machines, to the Kiyikoy medical center, as well as a power generator.
After a consultation process in which the local community determined their needs for the three local schools, the company agreed to work with local contractors and "we insulated all three schools in Kiyikoy to protect them from winter conditions."
The lack of local sports facilities was addressed, and they built a football pitch, and a multi-purpose sports field for basketball, volleyball and tennis, Kapusuz said.
The impact of the local fishing industry was identified as very important for Kiyikoy and consequently, the company will complete a series of projects to upgrade this sector, he said.
"There will be a deep freezing system with cold air units and rapid freezing systems for fish. This will help boost the market value of the fish catch. Other infrastructure projects in the area include the construction of a steel bridge near Kiyikoy harbor," he said.
Iain Wood, the project's stakeholder engagement expert, said he has been visiting Kiyikoy since 2015 where he has developed good relations with the locals who trust that he is looking after their interests.
“I know a lot of community members very well and we meet on a regular basis," Wood said and elaborated that at first those who were concerned about the project works, are now working closely with project members to resolve issues together.
“We often hear of their concerns and complaints. I would say at the beginning we had a lot of complaints and this was one of the reasons we have been working a lot with people on a regular basis to gain their trust and build good relationships,” Wood explained.
Wood also addressed Kiyikoy's fishing industry and shared that the company has compensated 98 fishing vessels for loss of earnings during the project.
Compensation even ran to unlicensed fishing vessel owners and to those who hold diving licenses in the area. "So far 175 contracts were signed for compensation. A minimum of 500 people will receive fishery-related compensation in Kiyikoy by the end of December," he said.
The company will focus on developing tourism in Kiyikoy - a place of natural beauty. This will be undertaken through advertisement campaigns to promote Kiyikoy both nationally and internationally, tourism training, and through advocacy for arts and cultural programs and in other areas, such as beekeeping.
The TurkStream natural gas pipeline, with an annual capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, will carry Russian gas to Kiyikoy, Turkey and to Europe.
By Murat Temizer