Flood recovery in BiH, a non-ending story

Flood recovery in BiH, a non-ending story

Almost four years ago, Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit by catastrophic floods but a large number of citizens have not yet received the appropriate help that would put their lives back on track.

According to estimations, more than half a million people still live in the areas that remain under a high risk of floods. Events in March this year, when river Sava flooded a large part of municipalities near it, raised further concerns and showed that BiH is still far from a definitive solution.

After the 2014 disaster, the greatest help was received by the international community that has massively supported the locals financially. The EU and UNDP served with most part of the sum but a number of other organisations were also involved.

Now, the EU is ready to trigger a new project and give €12,5 million. It is important to mention that the worth of the entire project is €15 million. This support means a lot for the local communities affected by those floods.

“We had a flood of epic proportions. From the whole municipal territory, only the city core remained (untouched); everything else was under water. More than 2.180 housing units were damaged in a municipality of around 21.500 inhabitants”, Stanko Vincetić, Orašje Municipality Mayor remembers, adding that the material consequences will not be done and over with for another 50 to 100 years.

He estimated that, in order to compensate for these material damages, people would have to work for generations.

Orašje is one of 44 municipalities and cities participating in the second phase of the Flood Recovery: Housing Interventions Programme is designed to assist the recovery of flood-affected communities by providing safe housing and strengthening economically the most vulnerable households. Through this programme, more than 2.800 people will have their homes rebuilt or reconstructed, according to the existing needs, while 555 households will receive support with agricultural production, small business startups and employment in the private sector.

Besides the active participation in all of the programme’s activities, municipalities and cities will contribute financially to the construction of new housing units. For each new housing unit, each municipality or city will spend 5.000 BAM (€2.500) from their budget, as well as secure plot, basic communal infrastructure and construction permits.

“We believe that, though this programme, we will be able to solve problems of people who still have not managed to repair their homes. I am grateful that this project was designed”, said Mayor Vincetić.

The first phase of it, was implemented from 2014 to 2016 and was of great success as it improved the quality of life of 610.000 people all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Orašje participated in that first phase during which roads, a cantonal hospital, five schools and 299 houses were reconstructed, while support was also given to local farmers.

Its second phase, of €15 million worth, bagan in September 2017. In October, a Public Call for beneficiary selection was published to which 3.950 households from 44 municipalities and cities from both entities applied. Almost one third of the applications (1.126 of them) were from Bijeljina, proving the remaining need for recovery.

“In Bijeljina the situation of emergency had lasted the longest; that is for two whole months. The damages in the city were of approxiately €200 million. We had around 15,000 objects that were flooded”, the Bijeljina City Mayor, Mićo Mićić said.

Like Orašje, Bijeljina too, participated in the first phase of the Flood Recovery Programme. Some of the reconstructions done in the city through this programme include: 896 housing units; ten schools and one preschool and water supply system. Support was also provided to small and medium businesses through financial grants.

The Flood Recovery Programme is implemented by the UNDP in BiH, together with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), Hilfswerk International Austria (HWA) and partner municipalities and cities. It is being implemented in: Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Bratunac, Brod, Cazin, Doboj, Doboj Istok, Domaljevac-Šamac, Donji Žabar, Goražde, Gračanica, Gradiška, Jezero, Kakanj, Kalesija, Kostajnica, Laktaši, Lopare, Maglaj, Modriča, Novi Grad, Odžak, Orašje, Petrovo, Prijedor, Prnjavor, Sapna, Srbac, Srebrenik, Šamac, Šekovići, Šipovo, Teslić, Tešanj, Travnik, Tuzla, Ugljevik, Vareš, Vlasenica, Vogošća, Zavidovići, Zenica, Zvornik and Žepče…. / IBNA