Heavy rainfalls that hit Serbia in the midst of May 2014 caused unprecedented floods, representing one of the worst natural disasters in Serbia in the last 120 years. As a result of the flooding, 34 persons lost their lives. Over 30,000 people were evacuated from their homes and severe damage was done to houses, infrastructure and agricultural land.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the United Nations Country Team in Serbia has worked closely with the Government of Serbia, the European Union (EU), non-governmental organisations and all humanitarian actors at all levels and crisis centers throughout the country to provide assistance to an estimated 1.6 million people affected by the floods.
The UNCT flood recovery efforts and support to the Government and people of Serbia could be summarized through following stages.
Emergency and humanitarian relief activities
Upon the request of the Government of Serbia, UNCT has immediately allocated USD 100,000 for emergency coordination. The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) was mobilized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) and deployed to Serbia within 24-36 hours.
In the first three weeks following the disaster, the United Nations Country Team in Serbia also brought direct support and relief to the population affected by the floods through four shipments of immediate humanitarian aid including health kits and the deployment of water purification equipment and water tanks. Vulnerable population was provided with hygiene family kits. Children received psychosocial support in newly established Child Friendly Spaces and information leaflets were widely distributed. Special funds were allocated for crop and livestock recovery and for schools rehabilitation.
In order to further support relief efforts, additional funds amounting to 2.1$ million have been allocated by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to the UNCT Serbia. Together with the EU and the World Bank, the UNCT has also played a significant role in completion of the government-let Recovery Needs Assessment (RNA).
During this recovery phase a total of 17 agencies, funds and programmes active in Serbia expressed their commitment and readiness to make their expertize and capacity available to support the government in designing and implementing new projects for the benefit of the people of Serbia.
Short and medium term recovery of the country
Beyond the urgent actions, continued focus and commitment to recovery and sustainable reconstruction was needed. The activities during this phase are fully in line with the Recovery Needs Assessment that is jointly conducted with the Government of Serbia, World Bank and the European Union during June-July 2014.
The areas of expertize encompassed the reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses and infrastructure, support of livelihoods and economic recovery at the local level including education and agriculture recovery, waste management and water governance, strengthening of the social welfare and health systems.
Vision for the future & disaster risk reduction efforts
All our future activities will be guided by the National Disaster Risk Management Programme and the corresponding Plan of Action which are based on the Government’s commitments to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 - 2030. This plan will bring all stakeholders involved in disaster risk management in Serbia together and be a guide for coordinated planning and implementation of activities. In addition this process will be supported by the United Nations Development Partnership Framework 2016-2020 that will be signed with the Government of Serbia in July 2015.
Following our path to achieve the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we commit that by 2020, Serbia will have improved capacities to combat climate change, manage natural resources and have more resilient communities to deal with the effects of natural and man-made disasters.
We would like to acknowledge all national and international partners and donors in providing support to the people of Serbia to help them rebuild their lives, their livelihoods and their communities.