Building Disaster preparedness in Macedonia

Published: 28 November 2001 0:00 CET

Daniela Kostadinova in Skopje

The International Federation, with support from five donors, completed the construction of a new central warehouse in Petrovec for the Macedonian Red Cross. "We all remember the Kosovo crisis in 1999 and the great numbers of refugees this National Society served. The money that was spent for leasing warehouse facilities in those days is equal to building two warehouses like the one we just built', says William Harper, Head of the Federation's Macedonia Delegation.

Familiar with the severe warehousing problems faced by the Macedonian Red Cross, Mr. Harper called "the right people", in the quest for donors. A modest ceremony marked the official handover of the building to the Red Cross of Macedonia last week. Located in the immediate vicinity of the national airport at Petrovec and of a major highway, the warehouse has the best possible location. With its 1,800 square meters it offers great storing capacity, as well leasing possibilities to generate financial income. The warehouse is a good example of how disaster preparedness can help provide assistance effectively to vulnerable people and also serve as a revenue generating project.

"We are grateful for the support the Canadian Government and Canadian Red Cross have given us, as well as the German, Spanish and Hellenic Red Cross, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). As I end my mission in Macedonia, I am so happy that the dream I had of leaving behind me something that will help this National Society in the long term has come true. It is unique feeling I cannot explain", noted Mr. Harper at the dedication ceremony.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has already rented half of the warehouse to store relief items for the distributions over the next six months to internally displaced people in the country. Mr. François Stamm, the ICRC's Head of Delegation in Macedonia, expressed his satisfaction that this issue had been resolved.

What is interesting is that the building, constructed in a North American/European style, featuring a steel construction frame, can easily be dismantled and transported to another place should the need arise.

"People in this region are used to building heavy concrete constructions that cost a lot of money. This was built quickly, it's easy to maintain and will be in use at least for a few decades", concluded Mr. Harper.

Answering a reporter's question on why it was called "DPP Central warehouse", the Secretary General of the Red Cross of Macedonia, Mr. Ilija Cvetanovski explained that most of the Disaster Preparedness equipment of the DPP team (*) will be stored in this warehouse along with a water purification station, and MRE food rations (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) as emergency relief items in case of an earthquake or other natural disaster. "Amongst us, we have already informally named this warehouse after Mr. Bill Harper" lightheartedly remarked Mr. Cvetanovski.

(*) DPP stands for Disaster Preparedness Programmes


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