Globally, countries are paying an increasingly high price for shocks that disrupt the normal functioning of communities. Following the floods of 2014, Serbia again, in 2015, faced the shock of the flow of over a million refugees and migrants transiting through its territory, and local communities had to raise to this challenge and its many economic and social ramifications. Crisis prevention and resilient development are a priority for UNDP in Serbia. UNDP works together with international and national partners to ensure that cities and municipalities in Serbia are better prepared for shocks and are more resilient to any type of disaster.
As part of the European Union’s Support to Migration Management, UNDP – in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Project Services Agency (UNOPS) – delivers EU funding and support to 18 communities hosting some 4,000 refugees and migrants, focusing on improved health facilities and services, communal infrastructure and public services and social cohesion, with the overarching goal of improving life for all people living in these communities. The team of UN agencies works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of European Integration and the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, as well as other stakeholders.
While leading and ensuring the management of the Open Communities – Successful Communities project, the UNDP team is focused on communal infrastructure and public services, and works jointly with IOM ad WHO on social cohesion measures. The project upgraded public health, social and education services in Lajkovac, Preševo, Subotica, Belgrade, Dimitrovgrad, Tutin, Banja Koviljaca, Šid, Pirot and Sombor. Vranje and Bujanovac received complete equipment and furniture for a local school and nursery school, while the Emergency team of the Bosilegrad Municipality and a pre-school institute from Sombor respectively received an off-road vehicle and a passenger vehicle. Experts were engaged in carrying out the hydrogeological exploration of a spring in Preševo, testing groundwater and drilling an exploitation well in the municipality of Bujanovac, to identify solutions for sustainable water supply in these local communities. Specialised utility vehicles and equipment for water supply and sustainable waste management were also procured in Obrenovac, Sjenica, Bela Palanka, Bujanovac and Kikinda. A new ambulance facility was constructed and equipped in Preševo, and an outpatient clinic was reconstructed in Bogovodja, Lajkovac municipality. In Belgrade, UNDP developed the Expansion and Reconstruction Project for the Institute for Emergency Medical Care, which enabled the smooth launch of construction works in 2019.
The capacity gap in local public services was bridged by engaging professional staff, including hydro engineers, doctors, public health technicians, nurses, drivers of sanitary vehicles, utility workers and workers in maintaining the hygiene of public institutions. This ensured the high quality and availability of services vital for citizens, refugees and migrants in these municipalities.
In parallel, joint volunteer actions organised with migrants and volunteers from local communities enabled them to get to know each other, overcome prejudices and build bridges between host and displaced communities.