The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Jaroslav Černi Institute for the Development of Water Resources signed today in Belgrade the contract to carry out the Study on Flood Management Improvement in the Kolubara River Basin which had been hit hardest in the floods last year.
The study will show which measures should be implemented to reduce the risk of floods and possible damage to infrastructure and also develop the system to protect flood risk areas in the Kolubara River Basin. The study is the first step towards a more efficient flood management planning in this basin, and also a more focused work on flood prevention measures.
The study is a part of the project funded by the Government of Japan in the amount of USD 3.6 million, and implemented by the UNDP and the Serbian Government’s Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief whose Director Marko Blagojević said that the donation made Japan the biggest bilateral donor to Serbia following the floods.
Speaking with journalists in the seat of the Serbian Government, Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief Marko Blagojević said that the damage caused by the devastating floods in May last year to the Kolubara River Basin made 60 percent of the total damage caused to the entire territory of Serbia.
“The total damage from flooding in May last year was more than EUR 1.7 billion. The Kolubara River Basin only suffered an estimated EUR 900 million to one billion in damage”, said Blagojević.
He stressed that, according to rough estimates, EUR 110 million would be required to construct a system to protect the municipalities in the Kolubara River Basin.
“It will take years to implement the project”, said Blagojević, underlining that only 19 dams had been built in Serbia in the last 20 years, whereas as many as 23 would be constructed this year alone.
He added that the Bill on Disaster Risk Management which would represent a comprehensive system and ensure Serbia’s readiness to face the situations such as the flooding in May 2014 should be included in the National Assembly procedure this autumn.
UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia Irena Vojačkova-Sollorano underscored that the project was aimed at long-term planning of measures to prevent or at least mitigate natural disaster consequences.
Japanese Ambassador to Belgrade Juichi Takahara said that flood prevention efforts in Serbia require long-term solutions and that the project would help the most vulnerable municipalities prepare engineering documents required for the construction of flood prevention systems, thus ensuring greater safety of people and lower flood risk level.
He stressed that the people of Japan still remembered Serbia’s assistance following the devastating tsunami, stating that the financial support of Japan, the country which was also “constantly grappling with natural disasters”, was the expression of solidarity and assistance for the Serbian people.
The project partners jointly called for partnership to implement the project, since an efficient and high-quality work on the study requires cooperation of several government institutions, including the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, Kolubara Mining Basin, Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia and 16 local self-governments located in the Kolubara River Basin.