Extreme weather is fast becoming the 'new normal' in the Balkans. In May 2014, historic flooding pushed over 125,000 people into poverty in Serbia alone, and caused damages and losses well over $2 billion in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A stifling round of record temperatures smothered Southern Europe last year, buckling train tracks in Serbia and earning the nickname ‘Lucifer’ for scorching temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, with similar temperatures affecting the region just a few months ago. According to international researchers, climate change played a significant role in both these heatwaves – and trends may worsen in coming decades.
Today EU starts the peer review mission on civil protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the inception meeting the team of experts coming from the Union Civil Protection Mechanism were introduced together with the objectives and goals of the mission. In the next 5 days the experts will assess the legislative, strategic and institutional framework in the area of civil protection throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina leading to a set of targeted recommendations which can be followed by the national and local authorities. Out of 10 DPPI SEE member states, Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only one currently not a member of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism. As part of the session dedicated to international organizations, DPPI SEE Head of Secretariat has presented the Initiative, the work that has been done in the past and the plans for the future.
This edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management focuses on disaster management and disaster recovery, with articles particularly on disaster management for vulnerable groups including children, the deaf community and people with physical disabilities.
The average rainfall for the first two weeks of July in England was 6mm, while only 15mm fell throughout all of June, according to the UK’s Environment Agency. To give some idea of how low this is, the definition of a desert is a place with an average rainfall of 21mm per month.
Disasters have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, who are at higher risk of death, injury and loss of property. Although the rights and needs of people with disabilities in disasters are increasingly being addressed through policies, standards and guidelines, much more needs to be done to remove the barriers to their inclusion in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and response. Effective institutions with supportive attitudes, structures and systems, backed up by good evidence, are key to meaningful disability inclusion. Human rights-based approaches have the potential to lead to a major shift in institutional policy and practice towards disability. Disability advocates and disabled people’s organisations can also play a significant role in disaster policy, planning and interventions, but formal disaster agencies tend to have limited interaction or collaboration with them. This briefing note identifies five key challenges that need to be addressed in order to promote disability inclusion in DRR and humanitarian action, relating to evidence and data, contextual understanding, institutions and programmes, representation and discrimination. It highlights the importance of rights-based approaches, together with improved standards and indicators, in overcoming these challenges.
Homes built haphazardly among the pines, no evacuation plan, poorly organised emergency services hit hard by austerity: the deadly wildfires around Athens this week may have shocked Greece but few environment experts are surprised. At least 79 people perished in the infernos that broke out on Monday evening, and questions are being asked of the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over how it could let the tragedy occur. For forestry expert Nikos Bokaris, the region of Mati on Greece's Attic coast where one of the blazes began had all the ingredients for a disaster of this scale. He said the congested nature of buildings set among pine trees, along with poor access to some properties, made a devastating forest fire nearly inevitable. "The pines were old, very tall and wide, all the necessary fuel for the flames to swell and spread. That creates a huge thermal mass," Bokaris told AFP. Greece has been experiencing a hot summer, and wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres-per-hour helped the fire swarm through the bone-dry forest at devastating speed. Tsipras said the weather conditions had worsened the blaze, something which geographer and natural disaster expert Kostis Kalambokidis tentatively agreed with. "We know full well that climate change is creating more and more extreme weather conditions," he said. But weather, it bears pointing out, can be forecast.