Instead of the existing frequency of every four to five years, we can now expect Serbia to be hit by drought every year. These changes can be mitigated, and their consequences reduced, if we apply the emergency measures that have already been defined in national strategic documents as soon as possible
Our country is the most vulnerable in Europe when it comes to climate change. Testifying to this claim is the fact that the average temperature in Serbia has already increased by 1.8°C as of this year, while the global average is 1.1°C, and this summer is the hottest on record. This year’s floods and winds testify to the dangers of climate change. Moreover, Instead of the existing frequency of every four to five years, we can now expect to be hit by drought every year, and we can expect severe droughts as much as four-five times every 10 years. These changes can be mitigated, and their consequences reduced, if we apply the emergency measures that have already been defined in national strategic documents as soon as possible. UNDP assists the Government in this area. It is particularly important to work on the construction of an irrigation system and advanced announcements of droughts in the region of Central Serbia.
Some advances are already evident. It rained almost as much as in 2014 this year, although incomparably less damage and fewer losses were sustained. And the Interior Ministry’s Emergency Situations Sector and the civil protection units of local governments responded successfully. The Government of Serbia, through the Ministry for Public Investment, adopted national programmes for family housing, as well as bespoke public facilities, in order to ensure schools are ready for September. It is particularly important that the investments in prevention following the 2014 floods yielded results. The least damage was sustained in areas where investments were made in training employees and improving procedures. That is a great lesson for the Government, local governments and other countries that are considering public investment priorities.
This year’s heavy rains caused the least damage in areas where employees were trained and procedures improved. That’s a great lesson for the national and local governments, but also a roadmap for public investment
Numerous municipalities and cities in Serbia today regularly inform citizens electronically about weather problems and their possible consequences, as well as providing advice on how to protect themselves and their property. It is important not to limit oneself to a single way of providing notifications. People with visual and hearing impairments, the elderly, and those who do not have mobile phones also need to receive timely information.
Thanks to financial support from the EU, the Geoportal of the Republic Geodetic Authority has a Risk Register, where it is possible to check the extent to which a certain building or location is threatened by landslides, floods, forest fires and other hazards by searching the cadastral parcel, address or name of the object.
The EU has also – in cooperation with UNDP, the Interior Ministry and the Ministry for Public Investment – allocated over 16 million euros that has helped to train over 1,000 local stakeholders throughout Serbia to respond to emergencies, as well as rescuers of the Mountain Rescue Service of Serbia. Preparations are also underway for a new national strategy for emergency situations. Moreover, vehicles for forest fires, ambulances and decontamination vehicles have also been procured. Special attention has been paid to strengthening the local civil protection system: municipalities and cities in the Western Morava basin have received equipment and mobile anti-flood systems, which they use in emergency situations, and the construction of the first training centre for municipal civil protection units should soon begin in Kraljevo.