Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Start: 2019-01-01

Given the climate change projections for the region, by the end of the century, the Western Balkans can expect an increase in the frequency, unpredictability and intensity of flooding, drought, heatwaves and wildfires. This will have an adverse effect on the GDP of each country, multiple sectors and, more importantly, the lives and livelihoods of people.

Climate change and high exposure to natural and man-made hazards further hurdle the country socio-economic development. The 2017 World Risk Report ranks Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country of high exposure to natural hazards.

Despite obvious trends, the incidence of catastrophes has not been prompted by an appropriate approach to disaster management caused by climate change, including a stronger engagement in the application of preventive measures.

Out of 145 local governments in the country, 91 are considered under very significant risk from floods and landslides and 27 - under high risk. In the past 12 years, six years were very to extremely dry. Also, years with large to disastrous floods are very common.

The wider consequences from all these could be devastating: according to the Recovery Needs Assessment conducted after the May 2014 floods, 81 local governments were affected with 75% of damages and losses borne directly by families, businesses and agricultural producers, including an undefined number of vulnerable population groups. Subsequently, one of the underlying recommendations of the assessment is to strengthen resilience at the local level through disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.

As the level of government closest to the citizens, local governments are on the frontline of the response in all disasters. Their significant exposure to hazards offers them the opportunity to initiate changes in order to reduce the risk of disasters at the local level.

What we do?

The "Reducing Disaster Risk for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina" is a joint program of the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations (UN) worth 8.4 million BAM. The Joint Swiss UN Programme "Reducing Disaster Risk in Bosnia and Herzegovina for Sustainable Development" will support Bosnian citizens, especially the most vulnerable categories and high-risk local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to prepare and adapt to the risks of disasters and strikes in different sectors of development.

The program will introduce and operationalize an integrated risk management and disaster risk management model at the local level to initiate disaster risk management from lower to higher levels of government.

At the same time, the program will facilitate the affirmation of the "model" of the system of preparedness and prevention at the local level with the potential of spreading throughout the country.

Its implementation is the responsibility of the UN agencies: the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with local authorities from 10 local governments (Banja Luka, Bihać, Bijeljina, Gradačac, Kakanj, Kalesija,  Prijedor, Sanski Most, Srebrenica, Trebinje).

Key Activities

The Joint Swiss UN Programme will address key priorities in disaster risk reduction (DRR) identified by local authorities and various actors in the sectors: protection and rescue, education, social and child protection, health and agriculture.

The program places particular emphasis on improving local coordination mechanisms in the area of disaster risk reduction, as well as on affirmation of the strategic risk planning process with an emphasis on the most vulnerable categories of population.

Outcome 1. At least 10 Local Government Units have adopted disaster risk reduction strategies, have established partnerships for effective intervention in disaster risk reduction, and fund activities that build community resilience and are therefore better equipped to prevent and respond to catastrophes.

Outcome 2. Citizens at targeted locations, especially the most vulnerable categories of the population, are more resistant to catastrophes.

The selection of partner local governments in the program was made on the basis of relevant criteria such as - risk assessment, vulnerability and exposure to disasters, human and technical capacity, the existence of a local development strategy, and a number of other criteria.

What have we accomplished so far?

  • Established and functional 10 platforms bringing together 126 representatives of relevant sectors / institutions (civil protection, agriculture, education, social and child protection and health).
  • Three (3) workshops were held for 69 members of the platform on the topic of climate change, the role of the social protection sector in the preparation of vulnerability assessments and contingency planning in the social and child protection sector in the DRR.
  • Twenty (20) sectoral landslide and flood risk assessments have been completed including vulnerability assessments in the areas of social and children's in all local communities. The assessments included the experiences and capacities of the centers for social work in response to COVID-19, and the risk of infectious diseases (with a focus on the pandemic) was addressed.
  • Mapping of institutions, organizations and services in the field of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and gender-based violence (GBV) in selected communities, including developing Framework of actions of health institutions in the areas of SRH and GBV in crisis situations in the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska.
  • Created and established Disaster Risk Analysis System (DRAS system) with completed training for all platforms members, intended for use by at least 600,000 citizens and representatives of the institution in all 10 local communities.
  • Updated existing methodology for integrating DRR into local development strategies.
  • A campaign was conducted including different media (television and social networks) to mark October 13, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, with a reach on television and social networks of over 400,000 people.

On-going activities

  • The preparation and harmonization of modes and the development of a modular package of training materials (from September to December) for trainers with the aim of coordinating the work and management of camps in crisis situations in all local communities is underway.
  • The establishment of teams and strengthening of DRR capacity in selected school facilities, which include elements of preparedness for the scenario of a pandemic, with a focus on COVID-19, in the development of risk assessment, plans and DRR training for teachers and students.

Goals we are supporting through this initiative

Background Documents