Joint action to prevent the risk of flooding

Jun 10, 2015

PHOTO: UNDP CROATIA

UNDP marked the end of the project „Immediate response to the floods in Croatia in 2014“

After the catastrophic floods that struck Croatia in May last year, causing human losses and enormous material damage, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Croatia started the one-year project „Immediate response to the floods in Croatia in 2014“. 

Most affected municipalities of the Vukovar-Srijem County were Gunja, Vrbanja and Drenovci in whose vicinity were mine suspected areas which were flooded as well. The Croatian Mine Action Centre has determined a total of 2.244.956 m2 of mine suspected area to be flooded. So, there was a justified fear of torrential waters moving the mines. 

Therefore, in the early stages of the project, UNDP together with its partners made an „Assessment of needs“ to determine if there is any need of re-doing the technical survey of the area and if any of the warning signs needs reconstruction. The immediate, medium and long term strategies for the recovery of affected areas were recommended. The project helped in confirming the safety of protection and rescue teams operating on flooded areas, helped securing the return of affected people and reduced the impact of future flooding in the non-demined areas. 

The very end of the project was used to once again raise the awareness of the danger of flooding and stressed the importance of prevention and preparedness of disaster. Through local conducted activity of public awareness of how one such catastrophe affects all aspects of life of the affected population, especially the vulnerable groups, it is extremely important to convey the children’s experience from the affected areas for which the chosen media were comics. 

Comic as a media was selected because it encourages children's creativity and expression, and because of its wide availability and very low production costs is extremely convenient for activities to raise awareness of the whole society on the issue of prevention and preparedness against natural disasters, especially floods. 

Children have presented their experiences of flooding by drawing comics during the Festival of Children's comic book "Croatian FairyTales of Jozo Vrkić" which was held on 5 - 6 of June in Gunja, and was used for the layout of the exhibition of comics students from as many as 127 primary schools from the Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem County. 

The fears and losses of children who have experienced flooding, destroyed toys and their hopes for the future, told in this way will certainly affect their parents, family, and consequently the wider community. 

"This kind of transgenerational transmission of information and experience from younger to older generations, with basic preventive function of general raising awareness about the risks of flood, is trying to act on individuals and invite them by joint action through small local activities to ensure better preparedness for future disasters," said Krunoslav Katić, project manager of "Urgent response to the floods in Croatia in 2014". 

Some of the small actions that could contribute preventing future flooding or at least minimize their damage are related to the cleaning and maintenance of drainage canals in the local community. However, a key infrastructural project that would provide residents protection not only of the Vukovar-Srijem County, but also the entire region is the construction of the multifunctional canal Dunav-Sava. About the importance of such an investment, its impact on the environmental protection and social inclusion in the Vukovar-Srijem County, a separate analysis was made as a part of this project. 

„Overall activities of the project and work on prevention preparedness will also lay the foundations so that the future „protection and rescue“topics could find their way to all pores of the society. The ultimate goal is to reduce the risks and potential human suffering during future disasters, not only in Croatia but also in the wider region,“ Katić concluded. 

The project was carried out in cooperation with the Government Office for Mine Actions, the Croatian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), the National Protection and Rescue Directorate (NPRD), the Croatian Institute for Public Health (CIPH) and Vukovar-Srijem County whose overall activity during the response to the floods in Eastern Croatia UNDP helped with 30.000 dollars.