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The mayors of Banja Luka, Bihać, Bijeljina, Gradačac, Kakanj, Kalesija, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Srebrenica and Trebinje – and Ministry of Security of BiH have signed today the Declaration Cooperation in the area of disaster risk reduction, in presence of the representatives of the Embassy of Switzerland and the five agencies of the United Nations. 

The ceremony, which was held in Sarajevo, was organized within the Joint Programme of the Government of Switzerland and United Nations (UN) “Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Barbara Dätwyler Scheuer the Director of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in BiH said  “Today representatives of 10 local government from Bosnia and Herzegovina showed their commitment to make their municipalities and cities more resilient to future disasters. By signing a joint declaration, they confirmed that they are ready to do everything that is needed to reduce the impact of future disasters. This project is one of the biggest and most comprehensive undertaking in the field of DRR in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a densely populated mountainous country, Switzerland has broad experience in dealing with natural disasters since many centuries. We want to share this know-how and experience with our counterparts from BiH.”

As the government level closest to the citizens, local self-governments are at the first line of response in all types of disasters. Their significant exposure to natural hazards gives them the opportunity to initiate changes in order to reduce the risk of natural disasters at the local level. At the same time, the Programme will facilitate the affirmation of the „model“ of the system of preparedness and prevention at local level with the potential for its strengthening in the whole country.
“The signing of the Declaration of cooperation demonstrates commitment of local communities to further enhance sharing good practice and experience for the purpose of reaching wider framework of managing disaster risk reduction in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bearing in mind that approximately 600,000 people live in these communities, people’s resilience will be ensured through improved social services, mutual community support, skills enhancement and formal and informal skills gained through the education system. By employing this approach, we will collectively be able to create a culture and raise awareness on the importance of holistic disaster risk reduction.“ said Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, UNDP BiH Deputy Resident Representative on behalf of the five agencies of United Nations participating in this project.

This joint Programme, worth BAM 8.4 million, is implemented by the UN agencies UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA and FAO in partnership with the local authorities. In the next three years, Programme activities will be implemented in 10 selected local communities that will contribute to their better resilience to natural disasters. The program will introduce and operationalize an integrated disaster risk management model at the local level and improvement of living conditions, to initiate disaster risk management from lower to higher levels of government.   

Aldin Šljivo, the Mayor of Kakanj municipality on this occasion said „I am glad that the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations recognized and pursue as priority the networking of local communities, linking different segments inside the local communities which need to be involved in situations of disasters, as well as involving the higher authorities level. ”

During 2020, activities will focus on enhancing capacities, strategies and action plans in terms of prevention and preparedness of local communities for disaster risk reduction. The intention is to strengthen the institutional preparedness and capacity of members of disaster risk reduction platforms through a multi-sectoral approach in working with a focus on vulnerable groups of population in the local communities.

“The City of Bijeljina is exposed to risk of natural disasters, especially floods, because in the vicinity we have two biggest rivers, but also a variable climate. During 2010 and 2014, we had an enormous damage and what we are working on currently is institutional strengthening of civil protection capacities, as well as all other organizations and institutions dealing with disaster risk reduction. Therefore, we glad to be one of 10 cities and municipalities signing the Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction within this Joint Programme” said Mićo Mićić, Mayor of Bijeljina.  

About the Programme:

The Joint Programme of the Government of Switzerland and United Nations (UN) aims to address key DRR priorities identified by local governments and various stakeholders in 10 local self-governance units across various sectors: protection and rescue, education, social and child protection, health, and agriculture. The following UN agencies are responsible for the implementation of activities: UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA and FAO in partnership with local authorities.