How to make floods - and droughts - resistant Serbia

March 5, 2024

The whole world, including Serbia, is increasingly facing disasters that do not recognise national borders. By mapping risks, analyzing, and improving regulatory frameworks, strengthening prevention and early warning systems, lives can be saved, property preserved, and the consequences of disasters mitigated.

"Torrential floods represent the most common occurrence from the arsenal of "natural disasters" in Serbia, which have been exacerbated by climate change. From 1950 to 2023 alone, torrential floods have claimed 132 human lives and caused material damage exceeding 12 billion euros. The frequency of torrential floods, the intensity and extent, make them a constant threat with consequences for ecology, economy, and society. The destructiveness of torrential floods has been significantly increased due to insufficient prevention and inadequate application of legal regulations, especially in the areas of urban and communal order, which is why such actions and projects are extremely important," says Professor Ratko Ristic from the Faculty of Forestry in Belgrade.

Thanks to the support of the European Union in the amount of 16,400 US dollars (14.700 EUR), the organisation CEKOR from Subotica will, by May 2024, carry out the project "Towards a flood- and drought-resistant Serbia", which aims to contribute to reducing the risk of floods and droughts, and losses of lives and assets, by creating conditions for organic food production, developing eco-tourism, and sustainable development of local communities. This project was selected from 35 project proposals in the call for proposals of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the project "EU for Serbia Resilient to Disasters".

“The project addresses the mitigation of the impacts of natural disasters, especially droughts and floods, on vulnerable and endangered populations, but also the overall economic development. Through the analysis of systemic, legal, and organizational shortcomings in the management of watershed areas of the hill-mountain region of Serbia, experts will propose improvements to the legal framework. Such improvements to the efficiency of the erosion and flash flood protection system will have a significant impact on reducing the number of human casualties and the extent of material damage caused by extreme climate changes," stated Natasa Djereg, director of CEKOR organization.

The project also envisages networking and connecting several networks and actors: Green Vojvodina network and the National Convention working group for Chapters 27 and 11, the association of students of the Faculty of Forestry, Protect the Forests of Subotica, the Gorani Movement of Serbia, the Gorani Movement of the City of Novi Sad, as well as representatives of the academia, decision-makers at the local and national level, and media.

Through the organisation of round tables and sessions, relevant actors will have the opportunity to discuss how they can collectively map erosion, improve preventive measures for drought and flood protection, and contribute to mitigating climate change. Also, through field actions of waste cleaning in rivers and afforestation at the local level, the project team will set an example for others in taking small steps to provide a cleaner environment, boost people’s health, biodiversity, and the economy.

This initiative is being implemented within the project "EU for Serbia Resilient to Disasters", which is funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP.