Investing in safety: Education of Roma communities on flood and fire prevention

April 8, 2024
UNDP Serbia

In Roma settlements across Southeastern Serbia, unplanned construction and inadequate living conditions, combined with the use of solid fuels for heating and cooking, are increasingly causing fires and floods. To contribute to solving these issues, Yurom Center from Niš has for years been dedicated to improving safety in Roma settlements and dealing with other problems these communities face.

Representatives of the Yurom Center organized a training on disaster risk reduction - floods and fires for representatives of Roma organizations from 10 cities and municipalities in southern Serbia, with the goal of strengthening civil protection. The training was intended for representatives of civil society, in order to transfer their acquired knowledge and skills to the residents of Roma settlements.

"European Union support for security issues in Roma settlements is of great importance in order to improve the resilience of the most vulnerable categories of the society. Through constant learning about the problems of fires and floods, we raise the awareness of our citizens and reduce the risk of disasters that often lead to fatal outcomes. In the previous period, twelve Roma children lost their lives in disasters, which was a sign to us that we need to talk more with representatives of local self-governments, but also with Roma," said Osman Balić from the Yurom Center.

During the training, Professor Martina Zdravković talked about the functioning of the civil protection system, the normative framework for disaster risk reduction, as well as fire and flood prevention. Participants showed great interest in the discussion, presenting their problems and suggesting potential solutions.

"It is necessary to educate the residents of Roma settlements to protect themselves, to pay attention to preventive measures, and to know how to react when an emergencies occur. In addition, we want the representatives of Roma settlements to be active participants in decision-making related to their safety, to delegate their representatives to civil protection units and local Emergency Headquarters," emphasized Jelena Marić Luković, Programme Analyst for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Živko Babović, Head of the Risk Management Directorate within the Sector for Emergency Management, also addressed the participants, encouraging them to actively participate in the work of the local Emergency HQ.

One of the conclusions of the training is that it is very important for all community members to be involved in education and preventive activities related to disaster consequences reduction, especially representatives of vulnerable groups, such as residents of Roma settlements.

This training was held within the project "EU for Serbia Resilient to Disasters", funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP.

UNDP Serbia