Weathering the Storm: Disaster Recovery in Bosnia and Herzegovina

November 5, 2014

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina has been hit by a number of devastating floods in recent years, including the worst flooding in recorded history that swept through the country in May.
  • When Sudo Forto’s farm was destroyed by flooding in 2010, resources made available by the World Bank helped him to recover quickly and begin farming again.
  • In June, a $100 million Floods Emergency Recovery Project was approved for the country, which focuses on the areas most affected by these floods

Between May 14 and May 17, more rain fell in Bosnia and Herzegovina than typically falls in three months. Rivers swelled, mountains eroded, and disaster struck the country. Floods ravaged towns and inundated newly-plowed fields. Landslides destroyed roads and other vital infrastructure. People fled their homes, seeking dry land and shelter. The results were devastating – more than 20 deaths, 90,000 people displaced around the country, and billions of dollars in damages across the region.  

While this flood – the worst in recorded history – was more deadly and more destructive than any other natural disaster in living memory, it was only the latest in a series of floods that have plagued Bosnia and Herzegovina over the last several decades.

Sudo Forto, a farmer living outside of Gorazde, Bosnia and Herzegovina, remembers the last time a flood close to this magnitude struck the country – during the winter of 2010.

“I was born and raised here and I can’t remember the water ever being that high,” recounts Forto.

“When the floods happened, it was night.  In the morning, we saw what happened.  There was no one whose heart didn’t flutter and leap.”

“Anyone who has seen that will always remember,” he concluded.

" You don’t believe anyone will help. However, we received a lot of support. "

Sudo Forto

Farmer, Gorazde, Bosnia and Herzegovina


This worker takes a break from weeding peppers on Sudo Forto's farm. Since receiving assistance from the World Bank in 2010, Forto has expanded his operations and hopes to employee more people soon.

Forto began farming his current plot following the cessation of hostilities in the region in the late 1990s. He began growing tomatoes and several other crops on a small scale before expanding his operations – building more greenhouses and hiring one employee.

When the floods struck in 2010, however, Forto found that much of his newfound success had been washed away.

“You realize that what brings bread to the table has been destroyed,” he remembers. “It was really, really difficult. “

Recognizing that immediate assistance and significant resources would be necessary for Sudo Forto, along with countless others who depend on agriculture production for their livelihoods, to rebound quickly in the wake of such a disaster, the World Bank, in coordination with the government, worked to restructure an existing Agriculture and Rural Development Project in order to make funds immediately available to allow victims like Forto to begin the long and arduous task of rebuilding. 

“You don’t believe anyone will help,” remembers Forto, “however, we received a lot of support.”

Along with help he received from friends and neighbors, Sudo Forto also received necessary supplies and equipment from the Bank’s project to begin rebuilding. This help came in the form of new greenhouses, irrigation barrels, plastic to cover crops and build greenhouses, and a number of irrigation hoses.

“We were motivated by all the help we received,” recounts Forto, “and we recovered fast – in about a year.”

With the onset of the more recent round of flooding in the region this year, the World Bank Group is again working with its partners in the country to help all those impacted by these floods to recover as quickly as Forto did. In June, a $100 million Floods Emergency Recovery Project was approved for the country, which focuses on the areas most affected by these floods.

These emergency response efforts are also being bolstered by more long-term projects designed to both avoid and mitigate the impacts of future natural disasters, including the Drina Flood Protection Project, designed to improve flood management in the towns of Bijelijna and Goražde.

Collectively, this work is designed to better ensure that floods, landslides, and other natural disasters are averted if and when possible. They are also designed to provide maximum support to victims in the unfortunate event that they do occur.

$100 Million
Amount made available to help those areas most impacted by floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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