Social protection must be an inseparable part of communities’ emergency response in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Sarajevo Times

DRR platforms in local communities are in a unique position to identify and address what makes people vulnerable, whether natural or man-made hazards.

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is one of the most challenging areas that requires special attention. But it is also a framework created with the aim of protecting local communities from hazards and minimizing their vulnerability. One of the most important aspects of DRR is the active participation of local communities.

Although natural disasters cannot be avoided, the approval of appropriate risk reduction assessments, plans, guidelines and approaches can significantly reduce damage and improve the sustainable development of Bosnia and Herzegovina – a country considered to be at high risk of exposure to natural and other hazards.

In light of these challenges, the importance of DRR has been recognized at the local community level in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the town of Trebinje is an example of continuous and systemic efforts to promote and implement measures of DRR through vertical and horizontal structures of society and also continuous investment in empowering the most vulnerable groups within society, children and families, in order to prevent or mitigate the consequences economic and social disasters.

“The DRR program has enhanced cooperation and coordination between different sectors, which has proven useful for effective program implementation in the field of protection and rescue,” said Đorđe Jelica, coordinator of the platform. RRC in Trebinje. “Maintaining closer cooperation with institutions at different levels of government, sectors at local level and other partners and donors has contributed to achieving good results and an excellent operational model for the successful implementation of this program”.

The public institution “Social Welfare Center (SWC)” stands out in the DRR platform of Trebinje. After drawing up and adopting the necessary documents, a risk assessment and the protection and rescue plan in the event of natural and other disasters, the SWC focused on the most vulnerable population groups, i.e. say about the beneficiaries of the social protection system, with particular emphasis on children and families.

“Although SWC Trebinje is not yet an official member of the City Emergency Response Command, it maintains close cooperation and ties with local authorities and sectors involved in providing security and prevention risks at the local level”, Zoran Anđušić, a member of the DRR platform from the social care sector, explained.

“The capacities of the Trebinje Social Welfare Center have been strengthened,” said Tanja Manojlović, a social worker at the SWC, adding that “it is thanks to the implementation of the DRR program that the SWC has been recognized for the first time as an important factor in the response to adverse climatic events and natural disasters”.

The implementation of activities within the framework of the joint program of the Swiss government and the United Nations (UN) “Disaster risk reduction for sustainable development in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, the training of SWC personnel and the provision of new equipment at the SWC all ensured adequate preparedness and continuity in the delivery of services and the provision of emergency assistance.

SWC staff play one of the key roles in disaster risk reduction through their presence in the communities to which they belong and, believes Tanja Manojlović, the training of SWC staff in the provision of psychological first aid, including practical assistance, stabilization and support to those affected in order to restore the normal functioning of the community, will be the next step towards the growth and improvement of SWC.

The role of DRR platforms in local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina goes far beyond simply assisting communities to cope with the impacts of events such as floods or fires. They are in a unique position to identify and address what makes people vulnerable, whether natural or man-made hazards, poverty, poor health and displacement or combination of all factors, as is sometimes the case.

“If DRR is successfully implemented within the framework of sustainable development, the concept of the disaster resilient city will help reduce poverty, ensure growth and employment and also provide increased social justice, new opportunities for development, a balanced ecosystem, better health and improved education,” explained Đorđe Jelica.

We should view all individual challenges and risks as part of a larger whole. The city of Trebinje is committed not only to making efforts to respond successfully to natural hazards, but also to strengthening its relationship with neighboring municipalities, cities and regions in order to put in place the systems that go hand in hand and that would provide mutual support and assistance if needed, as the ultimate goal is to secure a sustainable future for all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Joel C. Hicks