Response to Flash Floods in Skopje and Tetovo
The flash floods that hit Skopje in August 2016 and Tetovo in August 2015 and the river flooding that engulfed the Pelagonija region in February 2015 are part of a wider pattern that makes the Western Balkans one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions. But there is nothing inevitable in this cycle. Prevention is the answer: investing in protective infrastructure and smarter practices can protect lives and property.
The European Union and the World Bank, together with the UN agencies in the country, have responded swiftly to the Government’s request for assistance in addressing the damage caused by the devastating floods that hit the country earlier this month.
In addition to ongoing emergency relief efforts, a joint team of experts in disaster recovery from the EU, the UN and the World Bank have been deployed on the ground to work with national counterparts to identify the causes of the floods and assess their impact on communities and the broader economy.
Looking beyond compensation for losses, the team will complete a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment to identify long-term recovery needs and prepare an integrated strategy for reconstruction.
The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) that UNDP is undertaking together with the EU and the World Bank to assess the impact of the flash floods in Skopje is expected to identify further urgent priorities for flood preventing.
Urgent PDNA needs are likely to include expanding storm-drain systems and building torrential check-dams; preventing the use of drainage channels as impromptu landfill sites and forbidding residential construction in high-risk areas; and the creation of early-warning systems that can sound an alarm instantly when flash floods threaten.
The team’s analysis will based on the principles of sustainable development. This includes ensuring that any damaged infrastructure is ‘built back better’ and that all reconstruction projects are also designed as investments in preventing future disasters. The recovery strategy will identify the most urgent priorities and detail the estimated costs, providing a framework for donor support.