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The United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported by the Government of Switzerland, announced with a symbolic ceremony held on Friday, 22 February, the beginning of a four-year “Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development” programme, intended for local communities.

The Joint UN Programme “Disaster Risk Reduction in Bosnia and Herzegovina for Sustainable Development”, which is worth BAM 8.4 million, will support the citizens of BiH, and in particular the most vulnerable groups and high-risk local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to prepare for, and adjust to, disaster risks and shocks in various development sectors.  

"Have you planned disaster prevention actions in the 2019 budgets? Do you have plans for the continuation of emergency-related activities? Do those plans take into consideration the needs of the most vulnerable groups?”, the UN Resident Coordinator in BiH, Sezin Sinanoglu, recalled and added, “Although progress has been made, there is still a lot of work ahead of us and this programme will help with that work. Disaster prevention is not a task of only one ministry or one local community, institution or agency, it is a duty of all of us: from every single individual to the authorities at the highest level. It is a joint effort and it is the only way for us to make communities safe and prepared when disaster strikes.”   

Director of Cooperation at the Embassy of Switzerland in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Barbara  Datwyler Scheuer, expressed satisfaction with the fact that the programme will allow the development of preventive mechanisms and plans.  “Nobody can prevent the rain from falling, and it might be difficult to prevent a river from overflowing, but you can prevent people to build their houses in zones that are known to be dangerous, and you can build up a community that is prepared to respond quickly if a disaster strikes. Landslides do not kill people but a lack of urban planning and collapsing buildings do. I am pleased that jointly with the UN we will start one of the biggest and most comprehensive DRR project in Bosnia and Herzegovina ever. The project aims at reducing the risks of disasters in 10 municipalities. This is a start. I am convinced that by reducing the risks to an acceptable level, we  can save many lives, protect even more livelihoods and reduce economic losses substantially.” said Ms. Datwyler Scheuer.

The Joint UN Programme will address the key priorities in the area of disaster risk reduction (DRR) as identified by the local communities and various stakeholders in the sectors of protection and rescue, education, social and child protection, health and agriculture.

The programme places special importance on improving the local coordination mechanisms in the DRR as well as on promoting a risk-informed strategic planning process with emphasis on the most vulnerable groups of the population.

The ceremony was attended by the partners from the UN agencies involved in the implementation of the programme, representatives of the Embassy of Switzerland, relevant partners from government institutions at all levels in BiH as well as by the hosts from Maglaj who will be sharing their experiences and lessons learned in the years to come with the communities participating in the new programme.

The following UN agencies will implement programme activities: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with  domestic authorities.

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