On May 15, 2014, a national state of emergency was declared in Serbia. Unprecedented rainfall over a three-day period caused eight of the main rivers in the country to overflow their banks – resulting in massive flooding and landslides, and forcing more than 30,000 from their homes.
By the time the rains had stopped and the flood waters subsided, 51 people had lost their lives and more than 1.5 million people – 20% of the country’s entire population – had been impacted by these floods.
Nearly 52,000 people were now temporarily unemployed, 110,000 households were cut off from the electricity supply, and an estimated 125,000 individuals had fallen below the poverty line as a result of this catastrophe.
A Recovery Needs Assessment (RNA), supported jointly by the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) with support from Luxembourg, and the World Bank Group, placed the total value of the effects of the disaster at nearly €2 billion – more than 4% of Serbia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the wake of this disaster, the Serbian economy is expected to contract by 0.4% in 2014 – in contrast to the 0.5% growth projected before the floods struck.
Among those sectors hit the hardest in the country were the energy and agriculture sectors, while flood protection infrastructure suffered as well – leading to increased concerns of power and food shortages and leaving the country even more exposed to subsequent flooding.