North Macedonia

European Union, United Nations and World Bank join forces in flood recovery

Post-Disaster Needs Assessment to plan strategy to “build back better”

Skopje, 23 August 2016: The European Union and the World Bank, together with the UN agencies in the country, have responded swiftly to the Government’s request for assistance in addressing the damage caused by the devastating floods that hit the country earlier this month.

In addition to ongoing emergency relief efforts, a joint team of experts in disaster recovery from the EU, the UN and the World Bank have been deployed on the ground to work with national counterparts to identify the causes of the floods and assess their impact on communities and the broader economy.

Looking beyond compensation for losses, the team will complete a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment to identify long-term recovery needs and prepare an integrated strategy for reconstruction.

The Assessment is expected to be completed by the end of September 2016.

The team’s analysis will based on the principles of sustainable development. This includes ensuring that any damaged infrastructure is ‘built back better’ and that all reconstruction projects are also designed as investments in preventing future disasters. The recovery strategy will identify the most urgent priorities and detail the estimated costs, providing a framework for donor support.

“The flash floods in August were the third flood disaster to hit the country in the past 18 months,” said Martin Klaucke, the Head of Cooperation for the EU Delegation in Skopje. “This is why it is so important to go beyond emergency relief and damage repair to address the root causes of disasters.”

“Our shared focus is on disaster prevention,” explained UN Resident Coordinator Louisa Vinton. “This means addressing deficiencies in protective infrastructure, such as culverts and drainage systems. This means changing public behavior, to prevent the use of storm-drain channels as impromptu landfill sites and discourage people from building houses in areas where the flood risk is high. And this means establishing early-warning systems that can sound the alarm instantly when flash floods threaten.”

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of life and concerned about the increase in the frequency of extreme weather conditions, in the region and also in the country" said World Bank Country Manager, Marco Mantovanelli. “Taking immediate actions to reduce existing risk from natural disasters, avoiding the creation of new risk factors, and responding more efficiently to disasters, is needed to minimize the impact of these events on people and the economy in the future. The World Bank is committed to help countries build resilience to disasters by incorporating risk into their investment decisions".

The EU and the UN agencies have already been active in emergency relief. The UN agencies provided financial support to the Red Cross and distributed urgently needed supplies such as dignity kits, hygiene supplies, mattresses and blankets from their reserves.

The EU promptly activated the Civil Protection Mechanism at the request of national authorities, and EU member states were quick to provide financial and in-kind support through this system. The European Commission donated €150,000 for immediate assistance, and contributions by EU member states already well exceed €2 million. In 2015, the EU approved a package of €10 million for the country for dealing with the consequences from the floods, and the EU through ECHO has also provided € 3 million to a regional disaster preparedness assistance programme.