More than 1.5 million people in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been affected by the worst floods the country’s recorded history. Rains and floods were followed by land and mud slides which have damaged or threaten houses and cut-off access to many communities who need help.
The small town of Olovo, only 50 kilometres northeast of the country’s capital Sarajevo, was one of the first hit by the record-breaking floods. World Vision has been working in the area through its Krivaja Area Development Programme (ADP). Olovo and its neighbouring settlements were overwhelmed when its river rose for more than three meters beyond its banks, contaminating drinking water and cutting-off electricity.
World Vision was the first organisation to respond to the situation in Olovo, providing much needed items, such as food, water and hygiene kits, as well as things like rubber boots, raincoats, water pumps, despite continued rain and snow.
On the third day of the floods, the situation went from bad to worse when a landslide covered the main road, cutting-off access from the rest of the country.
“The water has withdrawn, but not completely, and lots of mud remains in the city,” says Selvedin Karic, head of the Centre for Social work and one of the point persons for relief efforts in Krivaja ADP. The city still remains without drinkable water and electricity. “Help fromWorld Vision is much appreciated,” Selvedin adds, as he and the members of the Bosnian State Army help distribute relief items.
It is still hard to estimate the damage. “People have just started to clean. Almost all ground and first floors of buildings were under water,” says Selvedin. Behind him, the streets are full of people, trying to clean away the mud and water and stabilize the situation.
“This is God’s giving, what can we do?” says Edib, worker at the local cafe, shrugging his shoulders as he points to the line on the wall thatshows how high the water rose. He and his friends are now cleaning the area and trying to repair the broken windows.
But, as situation in Olovo is slowly improving, in other parts of the country it is worsening. It is estimated that more than 2,500 residential buildings have been destroyed or are in danger. And, more than 40,000 people have been evacuated, but that number continues to rise.