Commitment of Local Governments To Disaster Risk Reduction
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) means systemic efforts to analyze and manage the causes of disasters, including reduced exposure to hazards and vulnerability of people and property, reasonable land and environmental management and enhanced preparedness for harmful events.
Disaster risk management must be based on understanding disaster risks in all their forms, from hazards to local exposure to capacities and vulnerabilities. For, if we do not have clear understanding of the risks we are facing, the implementation of the DRR measures can be ineffective.
Local governments in BiH often have limited financial or technical capacities to undertake steps relating to DRR and building resilience.
Implementation of the Joint Swiss-UN Programme on “Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina” recognizes the importance of the role local governments in BiH have in DRR and having considered their powers, capacities and responsibilities, the disaster management action plans were improved in order to provide a strategic approach to the implementation of resilience and risk reduction measures.
The Municipality of Sanski Most is one of the local communities in BiH in which the authorities identified disaster risks, including hazards, exposure and vulnerabilities, and are using that knowledge in decision-making through active engagement of representatives of civil protection, social protection, education, agriculture and health.
“The Joint Programme supported the municipality of Sanski Most through a multi-sectoral approach, thematic workshops and training sessions in conducting a thorough risk assessment, analyses, assessments, priority setting and planning of DRR measures. This project has significantly improved communication, coordination and cooperation among the key actors in the local community”, said Mr. Sajid Ramić, a DRR platform coordinator in Sanski Most, mentioning the procurement of a modern early warning programme, related equipment and a siren installed on a rooftop of the Fire Station in Sanski Most as an example of good practice within the Joint Programme.
“By installing a new state-of-the-art programme and equipment at the Early Warning Centre, prerequisites were created for the entire early warning system to be integrated into a whole for the purpose of establishing timely and effective early warning of the population about imminent or direct hazards”, Mr. Sajid Ramić emphasized.
As different levels of government have recognized how important disaster risk management is and the need to allocate power and responsibilities for undertaking DRR activities at the local level, it is necessary to develop capacities because the empowerment of the local level contributes to global disaster risk reduction.
As part of the Joint Programme activities, the “Support to the Implementation of the Preparedness and Action Plan of the Social Welfare Centre (SWC)” project is being implemented in Sanski Most, aimed at enhancing professional capacities and human resources of the SWC, strengthening material and technical capacities and raising awareness of the beneficiary population about risks, hazards and manners of self-protection in case of a disaster.
Ms. Zemina Kadirić of the Social Welfare Centre (SWC) in Sanski Most has explained that in case of a disaster, “vulnerable groups of society, like adults and children with disabilities, multi-member families with low socioeconomic status and older and infirm people, have an increased risk of experiencing long-term economic, social and psychological consequences”, adding that “additional and continued training of the SWC staff is necessary in order for them to develop competences and acquire skills that social workers need to be able to provide an effective response to the above-mentioned challenges and problems”.
Forest fires, floods, landslides, earthquakes are all warning us that preparedness to disasters and an effective response through the established DRR system are necessary.
By enhancing the understanding and raising awareness of citizens along with the commitments of the local governments and political leaders, we are building resilience to the soaring impacts of disasters and climate change, which is not an easy task at all, but still doable exclusively through joint efforts of all of us.