A report issued on Wednesday by Brana [Dam], a coalition of Bosnian NGOs formed after the catastrophic floods that hit Bosnia in 2014, monitors the transparency of recovery projects and international donations.
The report will present the results of more than a year’s research into hundreds of projects implemented over the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ana Lucic, project manager for the Centers of Civic Initiative of Bosnia and Herzegovina and coordinator of Brana, said the job was far from easy.
“The Bosnian authorities from the beginning were very skeptical about allowing NGOs and civil society to access information about reconstruction projects and the utilisation of the funds,” Lucic told BIRN on Friday.
Lucic stressed that Brana had only monitored donations towards reconstruction, which represent only a portion of the total amount of international aid granted to Bosnia after the floods.
“The biggest part of international aid was provided through grants, and the majority of them still need to be paid to Bosnia,” Lucic said, adding that monitoring these grants will be of the utmost importance since “they will have to be repaid by all Bosnian citizens”.
Almost two years after the most devastating floods in its recent history, reconstruction in Bosnia is still not complete. In the the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the two entities of the country, 300 families are still awaiting new homes, Jasmin Jaganjac, director of the fund for Support to Areas Affected by Natural Disaster on the Territory of the Federation, said.
“Our country was not prepared for such a disaster whose dimensions were unprecedented in more than one hundred years,” Jaganjac added.
“It will surely take five to ten years to fully revitalise the economy and recover from the damage caused by these floods. We will still have to rely on international aid,” Jaganjac continued.
In May 2014, unpredicted rainfall caused dramatic floods in Bosnia and neighbouring Serbia, which resulted in the loss of more than 60 lives and caused damage worth billions of euros.
The cost of the flood damage was set at some 3.9 billion KM [around 2 billion euro], equivalent to 15 per cent of the country’s GDP.
At the peak, 20,000 Bosnian residents were displaced and around 1 million affected by the floods and subsequent landslides. In July 2014, a donors’ conference organized in Brussels pledged around 1.5 billion KM [about 750 million euro] to help the country recover, the majority of the sum, 83 per cent, through international loans.
Initiatives like Brana represented an answer to the concerns expressed in Bosnian civil society that the reconstruction process would lead to delays and mismanagement of public funds.
As Bosnia alone could not provide the resources to assure reconstruction, almost the whole cost fell on donors, mainly the EU, which implemented its projects throughout the United Nations Development Program, UNDP.
On the other hand, reconstruction efforts undertaken autonomously by the local authorities were poorly coordinated and lacked transparency, raising fears that the public administration was mismanaging reconstruction funds.
At the end of October 2015, as BIRN reported, state institutions had rebuilt only half of the 45,000 houses that were destroyed or damaged in May 2014.
Source: Bakan Insight