On May 16 in 2014, everything changed for Brodac, a once prosperous village on the outskirts of the city of Bijeljina that was the epicentre of one of the worst floods in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This calamity also hit one of the largest agricultural producers in the area, Radiša Rikanović Miko, whose entire property was inundated in a matter of a few hours.
“The water gushed from two sides – from the River Drina to the west and from the river Sava to the east,” says Miko.
“These two rivers collided in the village and in a mere 20 minutes, the water level rose to 30 cm above its normal level.”
In a matter of hours, the flood waters hit 2 meters, turning harvest-ready corn and wheat fields into swamps, endangering livestock, and damaging agricultural machinery.
“As soon as I realised I was in a tight spot, I untied the cattle,” says Miko. “The feeling I had at that moment can hardly be conveyed. You are letting go of all you have. All your belongings, gone in a moment.”
The damage to Miko’s farm was estimated at around €61,000.
The European Union and the European Investment Bank, which mobilised €74 million, have helped address the most immediate damage, including repairing river dykes, banks, channels, and pumping stations, to provide greater security from floods for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to the emergency measures, further flood prevention and early warning systems have been introduced, bringing peace of mind to over 600 000 people in the country who live in flood-prone areas.