Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is one of the most challenging areas that requires attention. But it is also a framework created for the purpose of protecting local communities from hazards and minimizing their vulnerability. One of the most important DRR aspects is the active involvement of local communities.
Although natural disasters cannot be avoided, the approval of appropriate assessments, plans, guidelines and approaches to risk reduction can significantly reduce damage and improve sustainable development of Bosnia and Herzegovina – a country considered at high risk of exposure to natural and other hazards.
In the light of those challenges, the importance of DRR has been recognized at the local community level in BiH, and the City of Trebinje is an example of continuing and systemic efforts made towards promoting and implementing DRR measures through vertical and horizontal structures of society and also of continuous investment in empowering the most vulnerable groups within the society, children and families, in order to prevent or mitigate both economic and social consequences of disasters.
“DRR Programme has enhanced cooperation and coordination among different sectors, which has proven to be useful for effective implementation of the Programme in the area of protection and rescue”, said Đorđe Jelica, DRR Platform Coordinator in Trebinje. “Maintaining closer cooperation with institutions at different levels of government, sectors at the local level and other partners and donors has contributed to achieving good results and an excellent operational model for successful implementation of this Programme”.
The public institution “Social Welfare Centre (SWC)” stands out in the Trebinje DRR Platform. Having developed and adopted the necessary documents, a risk assessment and the Protection and Rescue Plan for natural and other disasters, the SWC placed the focus on the most vulnerable groups of population, that is, on the beneficiaries of the social welfare system, with a particular emphasis on children and families.
“Although the SWC Trebinje is not yet a formal member of the City Emergency Response Command, it maintains close cooperation and ties with the local authorities and sectors involved in the provision of security and safety and risk prevention at the local level”, Zoran Anđušić, a member of the DRR Platform from the social welfare sector, explained.
“The capacities of the Trebinje Social Welfare Centre have been strengthened”, said Tanja Manojlović, a social worker at the SWC, adding that “it is through the implementation of the DRR Programme that the SWC has been recognized for the first time ever as an important factor in a response to adverse climatic events and natural disasters”.
Implementation of activities within the Joint Programme of the Swiss Government and the United Nations (UN) “Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, the training of the SWC staff and provision of new equipment to the SWC have all secured adequate preparedness and continuity in service delivery and provision of assistance in emergencies.
The SWC staff play one of the key roles in disaster risk reduction thanks to their presence in communities that they belong to and, Tanja Manojlović believes, training of the SWC staff in the provision of psychological first aid, including practical assistance, stabilization and support to affected people in order to restore normal community functioning, will be the next step towards the SWC growth and improvement.
The role of DRR Platforms in the local communities in BiH goes far beyond mere assistance provided to the communities to cope with the impacts of such events as floods or fires. They are in a unique position to identify and tackle what makes people vulnerable, be it natural or man-made hazards, poverty, poor health and displacement or a combination of all factors, as is sometimes the case.
“If DRR is successfully implemented as part of sustainable development, the concept of the city resilient to disasters will help reduce poverty, ensure growth and employment and will also provide an increased social justice, new development opportunities, a balanced ecosystem, better health and improved education”, Đorđe Jelica explained.
We should look at 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 enhancing its relationships with the neighboring municipalities, cities and regions in order to set up the systems that go hand in hand and which would provide mutual support and assistance if needed, because the ultimate goal is to ensure sustainable future of the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina.