*Disclaimer: The information and views set out in this page do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the Council of Europe and/or the European Commission. Neither the Council of Europe, the European Commission nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Last update 02/08/2016
The municipality of Aytos ( Айтос ) is located in the Eastern part of Bulgaria, in the Burgas region. The municipality consists of 17 settlements (16 villages and one city) that form and administrative territory with a total area of 403 square km.
With a total population of almost 29 000 inhabitants, according to official statistics Roma in Aytos makes up a share of roughly 11%. The percentage could be as high as 25 % (around 7 000 persons) according to the data provided by the Roma community itself.
Roma in Aytos live mainly in three settlements: the Aytos municipal centre (around 2 400 persons), the village of Maglen (Мъглен) (270 persons) and the village of Chukarka (Чукарка) (220 persons). In the Eastern part of the city of Aytos there is an additional Roma neighbourhood where approximately 2 400 people live. According to municipal representatives, about 90% of the neighbourhood is within the city's legislature (urban planning). In this part of the neighborhood roads were paved, houses have access to sewerage, running water and electricity. However, the remaining 10 % that is not under the responsibility of the local administration is deprived of all amenities (paved roads, sewerage, running water, electricity). Moreover, many of the Roma families living in this part of the neighborhood lack property documents for their dwellings. This, in turn, limits the possibility of local authorities to take any measures towards this part of the Roma population in Aytos (e.g. social housing). This situation is one of the biggest challenges Roma face in Ayots, along with a high unemployment rate, high rates of school dropouts among Roma children, child labour and early marriages.
The municipality of Aytos joined the ROMACT programme in November 2015, after the signature of the letter of commitment by Mr Edrev, Mayor of Aytos.
Prior to its engagement with the ROMACT programme, Aytos had already adopted a Municipal Action Plan for Roma Integration 2014-2017 (MAPRI) and a “Municipal Development Plan, Aytos 2014 – 2020”.
The ROMACT national facilitator has worked with the CAG during her regular interventions in the community to ensure their active participation and involvement in the development and monitoring of the MAPRI, so that the needs of the community become a priority of the local authorities as well. In early February 2016, the CAG drafted a letter to the mayor detailing their short- and long-term priorities which could be included in the MAPRI. On the 26th of February 2016, the CAG held a working meeting focusing on the specific proposals to be added to the letter. These could be summarised as follows:
|Short-term priorities of the CAG||Objective 1||Objective 2|
|Infrastructure||Repair and pave the main streets in the neighbourhood inhabited by Roma|
|Housing||Provide social housing solutions in the municipality|
|Education||Ensure children attend school and reduce the number of school dropouts||Take appropriate measures to improve the knowledge of Bulgarian language among Roma children|
|Other||Find a sustainable solution for the high poverty rates, especially among children (provide them with clothing, food, etc.)||Guarantee effective emergency services|
|Long-term priorities of the CAG||Objective 1||Objective 2|
|Housing||Improve the housing conditions for poor Roma families|
|Infrastructure||Include the remaining 10% of the Roma neighborhood within the municipality's urban planning||Prevent illegal garbage dumping on “Detelina” Street|
|Education||Ensure children attend school and reduce the number of school dropouts|
|Other||Work towards the prevention of early marriages||Prepare emergency measures to reduce unemployment|
In line with the priorities of the community, the municipality of Aytos has already proceeded to the clearing of two illegal dumping sites.
Through the intervention of the ROMACT Programme, a new project idea was brought forth by local authorities, which is in line with the needs specified by the CAG members. The project entitled “Increasing the capacity of the pedagogical personnel for working in multicultural environmental” was submitted for financing under the Operational Programme "Science and education for smart growth" (OP-SESG) with the support of the ROMACT expert. Although it was shortlisted among the selected projects, the initiative was finally not financed.