Serbia

FAO, EU begin second round of assistance to flood-hit Serbian farms

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Belgrade, 17-July-2015 - Serbia FAO and the European Union will start a second round of assistance to flood-affected farms in Serbia this month, expected to reach an additional 7,000 households and six municipalities not included in the first round.

When the heaviest rains in 120 years of recorded measurements struck the Balkan Peninsula in May 2014, floods and landslides in Serbia killed 57 people and forced over thirty thousand to evacuate their homes. Damage to agriculture - livestock, crops, machinery, and infrastructure - was severe: estimated at Euro 228 million.

In Serbia, the European Union and FAO partnered to bring practical assistance to small-scale, family farms. Of the EU's initial flood-recovery assistance of Euro 30 million, Euro 8 million was allocated to restore the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, through FAO. A total of 24 of the hardest-hit municipalities in western and central Serbia were selected for relief operations in the first round of assistance.

Beneficiary selection was carried out in close collaboration with municipalities, reviewing and ranking thousands of applications based on need. Over the following weeks and months, 18,907 qualified households started receiving assistance packages of animal feed, seeds and fertilizer, fruit tree seedlings, and replacement livestock and equipment such as milking machines, tractor accessories, pumps, greenhouses and beehives. Goods were sourced through competitive bidding, from Serbian companies whenever possible.

With the first round of assistance almost over, with remaining funds the European Union and FAO will now provide help to households that did not apply in the first round, and bring assistance to six additional municipalities in central Serbia: Ćuprija, Gornji Milanovac, Ljig, Lučani, Petrovac na Mlavi, and Smederevo.

In addition, a second round of assistance financed by UN FAO will get under way this summer, providing livestock feed to 13 new municipalities: Boljevac, Ćuprija, Gornji Milanovac, Kladovo, Knjaževac, Ljig, Lučani, Majdanpek, Negotin, Petrovac na Mlavi, Smederevo, Svrljig, and Zaječar. This funding will also support efforts to build Serbian agriculture's resilience to future shocks.

"It is good to see the farmers getting back on their feet, thanks in part to the EU-FAO assistance," said Aleksandar Mentov, FAO national project manager in Serbia. "But preparing the agricultural sector to cope with possible natural disasters in the future is equally important." Building resilience on local, national and regional level involves awareness raising, planning and specific training - for government institutions, municipalities and farms, he added.

An FAO-organized workshop for the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection in May this year contributed to the development of Serbia's National Action Plan to implement the national Disaster Risk Management Programme. Training for local-level agriculture department officials on Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards was carried out in June.

All flood-recovery work in Serbia is carried out in close consultation with Serbia's Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, the government's Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief, and municipal governments.

European Union assistance to flood relief in Serbia program, worth 30 million euros, is funded by the European Union under the pre-accession funds IPA. The funds will be used for construction of new houses, rehabilitation of public buildings, private houses and roads and recovery of economy and agriculture in 30 municipalities most affected with floods: Bajina Bašta, Čačak, Ćuprija, Gornji Milanovac, Jagodina, Kosjerić, Koceljeva, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Krupanj, Lazarevac, Loznica, Lučani, Ljig, Ljubovija, Mali Zvornik, Obrenovac, Osečina, Paraćin, Petrovac na Mlavi, Svilajnac, Smederevo, Smederevska Palanka, Šabac, Šid, Trstenik, Ub, Valjevo, Varvarin, and Velika Plana. All activities in the field are implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), organisations HELP, ABS and Danish Refugee Council (DRC) - in coordination with Government of Serbia Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief. The information and views set out in this document are those of the FAO and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

Photography by FAO