Bosnia and Herzegovina

UMCOR Bosnia and Herzegovina drought update

News and Press Release
Originally published
By: UMCOR Bosnia and Herzegovina and UMCOR Europe
Areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) experienced extremely dry weather conditions this past summer. Drought has had a severe impact on the south of BiH and water sources have completely dried up in places. Areas that have been badly hit include Cantons 6 and 7 and the southeastern part of the Republika Srpska. Some fear that already vulnerable communities will become further disadvantaged by these latest setbacks.

UMCOR is assisting communities affected by drought in Stolac and Capljina Municipalities (or the Dubrava Plateau) to improve irrigation in the region. Minority Bosniaks and Serbs have been successfully returning to the area since 1999. Today it is important to ensure that these returns are sustained by assisting returnee households to increase income generation opportunities. Employment opportunities are scarce. Returnees rely primarily on agricultural production with an average income of 150KM ($75) per person per month. If the harvest is unsuccessful because of poor rainfall, returnees can anticipate little or no income, threatening the long-term sustainability of their return.

Even the existing agricultural production requires an increase in irrigation, in what is generally an arid climate. If the amount of irrigation water available is increased, there will be more opportunities for producers to expand their production and generate income. There is a cascading effect: as improvements in crop production step up, so improve the generation of cash and the growth and prosperity of the economy-leading to more people wanting to return.

Future activities involve contracting and financing the work for drilling 20 new bore holes that will provide enough water for 100 farming families or 500 family members within settlements and villages in the Stolac and Capljina Municipalities. These will be on average 50 metres deep, producing approximately 0.6 litres of irrigation water per second per bore hole. When completed, UMCOR BiH will also help these beneficiaries to manage the water resources effectively through maintenance and fair distribution.

The Dubrava region is well known for its fertile soil and good climatic conditions. It was one of the largest producers and sellers of fruit and vegetables in the former Yugoslavia. Although the market is much reduced as a consequence of the break-up of the country and the war, the region is still producing quality crops. By increasing the availability of irrigation water, UMCOR BiH aims to increase the income generating opportunities of the returnee communities with the long-term goal of bringing prosperity back to the Dubrava Plateau.

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