Interview - EBRD ready to help Bosnia's recovery from floods, awaits local authorities' damage evaluation

By bne IntelliNews May 22, 2014

The EBRD is ready to swiftly intervene in Bosnia, independently and with other international lenders, to help the country's recovery from the devastating floods - but is first awaiting the damage assessment of the local authorities, which will identify their most urgent needs, the head of the Bank's office in Sarajevo, Libor Krkoska, told IntelliNews.

"It is a massive shock and the damage is serious," Krkoska said in an emailed interview. "We are ready to step up our efforts and engagement to provide immediate assistance to help deal with the current crisis."

Krkoska said it is too early for an estimate about the disaster's impact on the economy and budget, adding the crisis will certainly have an adverse effect on this year's growth projection. Still, he estimates that the sectors of infrastructure, utilities and agriculture have been the worst hit. Furthermore, there is a real danger of water pollution as drinking water supplies mix with contaminated water.

Bosnia and its bigger neighbour Serbia were hit by the worst floods in their history last week after rainfalls equivalent to several months of rain poured in less than four days. As a result, rivers went out of their beds turning towns and villages into lakes, while soaked land activated some 3,000 slides that buried houses and dig up mines left from the war.

Bosnia's two entities - the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic, reported 20 death cases so far. Close to one million people have been evacuated from their homes as the situation remains critical in many northern areas along the Sava river.

Krkoska said that the EBRD's short-term goals will be to support the recovery of the road and railway infrastructure sectors, where it already has a lot of expertise. The Bank is also considering how to help badly hit small and medium sized businesses, especially in agriculture, which will need additional capital. In such cases the EBRD might intervene alone or through partner banks, he added.

In the long term, the lender will be exploring the options to upgrade flood defence systems to prevent the reoccurrence of such disasters.

"We are now looking at what else we might be able to do to bolster the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries affected by these terrible floods."

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