Bosnia and Herzegovina

Building back better in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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In Bosnia and Herzegovina, close local and regional coordination allowed for quick recovery from devastating floods

Supporting Resilience in Reconstruction


Between May 14 and May 17, 2014, more rain fell in Bosnia and Herzegovina than typically falls in three months. Rivers swelled, mountains eroded, and disaster struck the country. This flood — the worst in recorded history — affected more than 1 million people (25% of the population), and caused estimated damages and losses equivalent to nearly 15% of the country’s GDP. In a country where one h of the workforce is employed in agriculture, river oods inundated newly-plowed fields and ravaged 81 municipalities, severely disrupting the economy and imperiling livelihoods.
With more than 2,500 km2 of territory prone to ooding, Bosnia and Herzegovina is particularly vulnerable to extreme precipitation and river basin flooding, which have intensified in recent years. Despite improved emergency services, floods and landslides represent a recurring risk, as seen in December 2010 and May 2014. Currently, the country’s annual average population affected by flooding exceeds 100,000, and the annual average impact on GDP is nearly $600 million. The most productive regions are also among the most exposed areas of the country as they are located around the Sava, Drina, Bosna, and Vrbas rivers, which have many agricultural holdings, industrial facilities, energy plants, and touristic sites.


In response to the ooding in 2014, a Recovery Needs Assessment (RNA) was launched by the Governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the World Bank, the European Union, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The RNA helped the Governments to quantify damages and, equally important, provided timely technical assistance to launch decisive reconstruction efforts. By identifying opportunities for instilling disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation consideration into national and subnational recovery and development strategies, this expert assistance was able to:

  • Facilitate donor coordination and prioritize the most flood-affected areas;
  • Support a “build back better” principle in rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts; and
  • Ensure that gender-responsive considerations play a key role in recovery planning, including mapping vulnerable groups and expanding SOS telephone lines.

Following the RNA, the World Bank-financed Flood Emergency Recovery Project was launched and provided assistance to 640,000 people in flood-affected areas. Technical assistance will continue to strengthen civil society protection capacity as well as regional cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro to improve integrated river basin flood risk management.


Strengthening resilience against future shocks demands that early considerations should be made for reducing inequalities that create vulnerability.
For example, resources dedicated to women’s economic and political empowerment, and for equal participation in all disaster-related forums, will be key to building back better to reduce future disaster risks.
Partnering with local governments in identifying rehabilitation measures increases ownership and accountability.
Assigning the decision-making authority as close as possible to affected persons improved local ownership and enhanced the accountability of local authorities. The Flood Emergency Recovery Project enabled national and local governments to set priorities among pre-selected intervention options in order to improve living conditions within their respective communities.

Improved flood protection for 640,000 citizens

EMERGENCY FUNDS RAISED The Recovery Needs Assessment’s findings, which estimated damages and losses at $2.7 billion, leveraged $100 million from the World Bank IDA’s Crisis Response Window to finance emergency goods and rehabilitate more than 320 public infrastructure facilities to pre-flood conditions, in addition to 261 km of regional roads and 25 local bridges that were heavily damaged.

LIVELIHOOD RESTORED More than 150,000 people received emergency assistance, including agricultural goods (seeds, irrigation equipment, and greenhouses) to restore livelihoods and received construction materials to rebuild damaged houses.

RIVER FLOOD RISKS MITIGATED More than 640,000 people, nearly half of whom are women, have benefitted from rehabilitated infrastructure and ood protection in affected areas since the 2014 oods. The Flood Emergency and Recovery Project and Drina Flood Protection Project were designed to better ensure that oods, landslides, and other natural disasters are averted if and when possible.