Project: National HDR 2016: How to improve security of vulnerable municipalities in Serbia?

Novi Sad – A City Prepared to Natural Disaster Risks

As a result of strong preventive measures that have been put in place, Novi Sad has not been directly endangered during the May 2014 floods in Serbia. The city's main role in these times was to support municipalities severely affected by the floods in Serbia and in the region. The discussion in the focus groups in Novi Sad was organized at the end of Octobar as a part of the National Human Development Report (NHDR) that addresses the issues of local community resilience to natural disaster risks. The Center is preparing the NHDR for the United Nationas Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Serbian Government.

Together with its citizens local self-government has been engaged to provide recovery assistance in sending tow tracks, food, water, clothes, and baby kits to Sabac, Sremska Mitrovica and Obrenovac. Moreover, exceptionally high number of volunteers was engaged, while at the same time Red Cross collected humanitarian aid at the several spots in the town for those in need. While the local self-government has been focused to provide aid to floods affected municipalities, Center for Social Work put its effors to protect vulnarable popluation groups at the territories of Novi Sad that were reported as flood-prone. The focus groups participants have stated that effective organization of the local community has been manifested before - notably during 2006 floods of Tisa river, local fires often occuring during harvest period in Srem and in times of heavy snowing. In addition, representatives of local self-government have stated that the city's capacities to respond to natural disaster risks have yet to be fully used indicating that the city is prepared to adequately respond to potential risks.

Civil society representatives participated at the focus groups also underlined that they feel save in their community. They have stressed that risk prevention is high on the local self-government agenda, but at the same time they have highlighted some of the system's disadvantages.  For instance, they appealed that Emergency Situations Headquater of the local self-government should consider to use available capacities of the volunteer fire-brigade association of Novi Sad as well as volunteer capacities in general. Furthermore, they indicated that relevant policies and procedures should take into account the need for increased education in this area with the participation of private sector and representatives of the Assembly of Tenants. Aarhus Center from Novi Sad thus prepars training programmes for all social groups in the local community to particularily address the role of prevention in disaster risk reduction. It also has initiated the establishment of the Training Center for Emergency Situations. Finally, the representative of the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation discussed the role of this organisation in collecting humanitarian aid during the May 2014 floods including their role in today's migrant crisis.

Novi Sad is one of the 13 towns and municipalities in Serbia that participates in 2015 NHDR research.