“I am the most afraid at night. I lay in bed and there is always something crackling. The house is moving” says 53-year old Ana. Even if there were no sounds, long yellowish tapes with which she tried to seal the cracks above her bed remind her that her home is falling apart. Literally.
Fear of possible collapse forced Ana to leave her bedroom this winter and start sleeping in the kitchen, next to the entrance doors. “It’s the safest” she says.
For almost four years now, Ana, her 13-year old son Ivan and 21-year old daughter Valentina have been living in danger. Their home is covered in deep cracks from the nearby landslide caused by the record breaking rainfalls in 2014.
As unemployed, single mother, Ana does not have the possibility to fix the current situation or build a new home. Her income is barely enough to pay electricity bills and food.
“My son, then 10, came home once and told me that the godfather of his friend has glue and that he and his friend could glue the house back together” says Ana quietly sitting in her living room. Her shoulders are bent, and hands firmly placed in her lap. And while the wood stove is warming up the room, cold air is still felt. ”It is blowing from all sides, through the cracks” Ana adds.
Ana’s family is one of many that suffered from catastrophic floods and landslides, the worst ever recorded, that hit Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014. More than one million people were affected by this natural disaster, while 90,000 had to leave their homes. Heavy rainfalls caused more than 3,000 landslides all over the country.
Although almost four years have passed since this catastrophe, many still need assistance. According to the assessment done by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 4,900 households still did not recover. Having this in mind, Flood Recovery – Housing Interventions Programme was designed. Programme, valued at 15 million EUR, aims to provide safe housing and strengthen economically most vulnerable households in flooded communities. Programme is financed by the European Union in cooperation with the Government of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Government of Republika Srpska, UNDP and local authorities.
„European Union and UNDP have been cooperating for years in order alleviate the effects of the catastrophic 2014 floods. After the first phase of the Programme, that improved the quality of lives for 610,000 people, we are now continuing with the activities of helping those most vulnerable; those who still live in inadequate accommodation and have no possibility to recover without help“ says Selma Kemalovic-Alic, manager of the Flood Recovery Programme.
Through Programme, 44 flood affected communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be supported with their recovery. It is expected that more than 2,800 people, whose homes were damaged or destroyed in floods or landslides, will be provided with safe housing, while 555 households will receive help with agricultural production, start of small businesses and employment in private sector.
Flood Recovery Programme started with Public Call for beneficiary selection to which Ana applied. Upon the completion of the process, Ana received the good news: the application was accepted and her family will have new home build at the safe location.
„We were all happy when we learned of this“ says Ana and admits that her son could not sleep when they heard about the possibility of getting a new home. „I still can not imagine that“ she adds carefully as if she is afraid to believe that she will finally replace days and nights spent in fear with new feeling of safety.
Programme is implemented by the UNDP in BiH, together with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), Hilfswerk International Austria (HWA) and partner municipalities and cities.
Photo: Aida Šunje