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Several communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) are bracing themselves for a difficult winter after a bruising 2003. Already vulnerable communities have been hit by a four-month drought and a series of storm s that have caused an estimated EUR 200 million damage to agriculture.
There are fears that up to 200,000 inhabitants could be affected this winter and spring, the worst situation since 1995, when war ceased. Many people in BiH live below subsistence level. Groups of displaced people, refugees, returnees, retired people, elderly, handicapped and unemployed are especially vulnerable. Many will be in need of food, hygiene items, cattle food, seeds and fertilisers for autumn and spring sowings .
The Republik a Srpska entity and Posavina Canton in the BiH Federation entity have been badly hit. The authorities undertook measures to alleviate suffering. These included: repealing taxes on those affected; repair of roofs damaged; distribution of food parcels; and distribution of drinking water (8,000 litres). However, overall poor economic conditions and the extent of the problem meant all needs were not met.
The south (Herzegovina) has been particularly been prone to water shortages. In many villages, people, including the elderly, rely on local wells and cisterns (rain collectors) for their supply but these have dried up in several places.
Many people have been forced to travel many kilometres to find water. The cost of trucking water into communities is too expensive for most villagers.
Red Cross and Red Crescent action
In August 2003, the International Federation gave EUR 6,000 to the Red Crescent Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina's (RCSBiH) action in water distribution. RCSBiH, along with the Civil Protection, local authorities and fire-brigades, organised distribution of drinkable water to 1,745 families (5,235 inhabitants) in the remote villages of Trebinje, Ljubinje and Ravno municipalities. The distributed water was 1,560 m3, or 315 litres per inhabitant (approx. 10 litres per day). Water-cistern trucks were rented from the fire brigades . The fuel was paid by the Red Cross. The municipality authorities gave the water free. Unfortunately, the drought continued. Forest fires in mid-July and August worsened the situation. The municipalities most affected by forest fires were Trebinje, Ravno, Bileca, Neum, Gacko, Ljubinje and Mostar in the south, as well as Banja Luka region in the north.
A lot of water was used to extinguish the fires and water -cistern trucks were not always available. More people in remote villages whose water wells dried up turned to the Red Cross for help. The situation now looks as follows:
- 3,600 families (13,350 inhabitants)
from Trebinje, Ljubinje, Bileca, Nevesinje and Berkovici (five municipalities
of Eastern Herzegovina Region - Republika Srpska entity)
- 12,175 families (49,225 inhabitants) from Mostar West, Mostar East, Capljina, Konjic, Stolac, Citluk, Jablanica, Neum, Prozor-Rama and Ravno (ten municipalities of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton - Federation BiH entity)
To complicate matters, strong winds and hail in July 2003 caused damage to crops, buildings and infrastructure. It affected mainly:
- Tuzla and Zenica-Doboj Cantons in Federation BiH entity
- Prijedor, Zvornik, Doboj and Banja Luka regions in Republika Srpska entity
- On 4 July, damage to crops and infrastructure
seven municipalities in the Region Prijedor estimated at EUR 1 million.
- Three separate storms in Region Zvornik,
damaging crops and buildings, estimated to be EUR 40,000.
- On 4 and 23 July, damage to crops, buildings
and infrastructure estimated at EUR 800,000 in four municipalities of Doboj
- On 4 and 23 July, damage to crops (EUR
1.5 m illion) and infrastructure (EUR 750,000) in four municipalities of
Banja Luka region.
- On 23 and 25 July, damage to crops (EUR
1.5 million), buildings (EUR 135,000) and infrastructure (EUR 39,000) in
four munic ipalities of Tuzla Canton.
- On 23 July, damage to crops (EUR 150,000) and buildings (EUR 175,000) in Zenica-Doboj Canton. The cantons and regions ravaged by the hail storms were in regions where the main economy is agriculture and whose inhabitants mainly live from the land. The crops, already damaged by drought, were destroyed by the hail storms.
For further details please contact:
- Slobodanka Curic, DPP sub-regional coordinator, Regional Delegation for Central Europe phone: +387 65 665 747 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sune Follin, disaster management delegate, Regional Delegation for Central Europe, Phone: 361 2483315, Email: email@example.com
- Zsolt Dudas, Regional Officer, Europe Department, Geneva, Phone : 41 22 730 43 19; Fax: 41 22 733 03 95; email: Zsolt.Dudas@ifrc.org
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