In order to build effective prevention and emergency preparedness of the city of Bijeljina, one of the 10 local communities in BiH where activities are implemented under the Joint Program of the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations "Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development BiH ", water rescue equipment in the value of over 80,000 KM was handed over. Delivered equipment includes off-road vehicle, boat with outboard engine, boat trailer, two sets of diving equipment, sets of personal protective equipment and rescue tools and IT equipment, as part of previously recognized strategic priorities related to disaster prevention, preparedness and response, which will contribute better resistance to floods and protection of the lives of the inhabitants of Bijeljina. Capacity building of competent institutions is only one segment in the comprehensive systemic approach to disaster risk management, which is being established through the Joint Program implemented in BiH by the UN agencies UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA and FAO.
On behalf of UNDP in BiH, as one of the UN agencies implementing this Program in BiH, Steliana Nader, UNDP Resident Representative, said: "It is clear to us that natural or man-made disasters can instantly destroy the economy and development efforts of society achieved over a number of years. Therefore, it is vital that BiH improves its preparedness, risk management and disaster risk reduction strategy to build resilient infrastructure and communities. UN agencies in BiH are making significant efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change and improve development-oriented disaster risk management, thus ensuring the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. This handover of equipment is the result of a partnership between the Government of Switzerland, UN agencies in BiH and the city of Bijeljina, achieved through joint action to strengthen the resilience of local communities to reduce exposure of future development investments to potential disaster risks."
The most common natural disasters - floods, which hit BiH in 2014, caused damage estimated at around 4 billion KM, and one of the hardest hit areas was the city of Bijeljina, where over 6,500 houses were flooded and damage was estimated at around 123 million KM. Absolute flood protection is not possible, but the system of prevention, protection and rescue from floods and other disasters can be developed and improved.
"We are witnesses that the city of Bijeljina is relatively often endangered by floods, and to build disaster resistance requires greater technical support, capacity building as well as financial support to reduce the risk of disasters, therefore this equipment for civil protection will significantly reduce the risk of floods, and improve action in case of need ", said the Mayor of Bijeljina Ljubiša Petrović.
By additionally equipping the existing specialized civil protection units and units in local communities for protection against floods and accidents on water and under water, and regular annual training of members of specialized civil protection units, diving clubs, training for lifeguards and motorboat drivers, the city of Bijeljina regularly and continuously implements flood risk reduction measures and activities.
The Mayor of Bijeljina Ljubiša Petrović adds that by participating in the Joint Program, the City of Bijeljina continues good practice and cooperation with international organizations and agencies, working on sustainable development and sustainable development goals in partnership with relevant institutions, private and civil sector, and all in accordance with citizens' needs.
Milan Novitović, director of the Republika Srpska Civil Protection Administration, emphasized the importance of mayors and local assemblies to increase the number of members of civil protection, both in local administration and general purpose units, and specialized units. "Our obligation is to invest in equipment, our obligation is to invest in human resources, training, education and establishing an operational system of efficient response in situations of natural or other disaster. We owe gratitude to the partners who understand the specifics of the organization and needs, but we also have the obligation to justify everything that is invested in us, " said Novitović.
Joint programme "Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development of BiH" worth 7.1 million KM, introduces systemic solutions that will ensure addressing key priorities in the field of disaster risk reduction at the local level in cooperation with representatives of various sectors: protection and rescue, education, social and child protection, health and agriculture. The implementation of the Joint Programme in BiH is the responsibility of 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 and relevant implementing partners from the governmental and non-governmental sectors.