As Turkiye continues to deal with the devastation left in the wake of two of the biggest earthquakes in its history, a young Turkish engineer in the UK wants to help quench the needs of earthquake victims with an innovatively practical water tank.
Mechanical engineer, Beren Kayali, along with her fellow co-founder of the start-up company, Deploy, invented the world’s first-ever foldable and inflatable water tank and now wants officials to help her deploy the system in quake-hit regions of southern Turkiye to help solve problems of water sanitation and supply for the millions affected.
People in the earthquake zone must have their basic needs met to survive amid the freezing winter temperatures in the aftermath of dual quakes that levelled thousands of homes on Monday, Kayali told Anadolu.
With her award-winning air-inflatable water tanks that cut back massively on transport and deployment time, she hopes to ease the pain of survivors, many of whom now reside in containers and tents in the countryside.
“As those in the industry would know, all (water tank) constructions made of plastic, concrete or galvanised steel normally need a concrete base to be prepared,” she said, adding that it takes one or two months for this concrete to dry and become ready for use.
In comparison, Kayali’s tanks, which use concrete canvas fabric technology instead of a slab, weigh only 250 kilograms (about 550 pounds). They can be transported by plane, helicopter or truck in their compact form to be inflated on site in 24 hours with two people.
It is particularly useful in impoverished rural areas or disaster relief, from earthquakes to wildfires, floods and drought, which is exactly what they were designed for said Kayali, who is the first Turkish woman to receive a British Royal Family scholarship, and is currently based in Wales.
“The sole purpose and vision of the firm is to provide safe water storage units for rural areas since the beginning of this journey. Since I have this know-how on water infrastructure, I want to donate some of these tanks to quake-hit provinces.”
Help for planning
Kayali is now looking for engineers, officials and other professionals to help plan the deployment of the tanks once in Turkiye.
Underlining the logistics challenges of getting aid materials to the quake zone, Kayali said she wanted to work with officials and engineers in Turkiye to plan for the tanks on site for the victims. “These tanks can be used both for drinking water and as septic (tanks), so we can very easily prevent a cholera outbreak. We just need people to plan it.”
“If it’s for drinking water, it can very easily (be fitted) with a filter system and pipeline. If it’s going to be used as a septic (tank), it needs to be buried underground. So, I’m trying to reach people who can do the engineering and technical planning for this.”
“So, we’re just looking for help to make the right connections to be able to send the right products to the right people at the moment,” she said, noting that the company currently had 18 tanks in stock, with the capacity to build three more per week.
Turkish authorities have said that the 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes affected an area of about 110,000 square kilometers (about 42,470 sq miles) in Turkiye, spanning 10 of its provinces: Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa and Kahramanmaras, where they were centred.
Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Turkiye in the space of less than 10 hours.
A total of 28,044 people have been evacuated from the quake-hit regions, according to the most recent figures from the country’s disaster management authority, placed in designated accommodation areas and guesthouses.
At least 16,170 people were killed and 64,194 others injured by the earthquakes, according to Turkish officials.
Call to action
Urging her fellow engineers in Turkiye to “rise to the occasion”, and unite the industry’s know-how for the quake victims, Kayali said:
“I’m calling for civil engineers, mechanical engineers, industrial engineers who have a background in planning for this kind of situation, so we can … help every person who is looking for our help right now.”
“Right now, the rescue job is still going on, but we also need to start planning ahead. How are we going to be providing water to hospitals that are already wrecked?” she asked, noting that field hospitals had also been deployed in many areas.
“But also, (how are we going to provide water) for all those people who are injured and who are just like sitting by pitch fires and trying to survive right now?”
“It’s time for us to rise to the occasion so that we can unite our know-how in the industry.”
So far, Deploy has sent its tanks to countries including Ecuador, India, Greece and Saudi Arabia.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.