Byala Slatina

General Information
 
ROMACT Cycle: 
Closed
Mayor of the Municipality: 
Ivo Tsvetkov
Contact Person within the Municipality: 
Sashka Parvanova, Director of Directorate Local development and public procurements
Facilitators: 
Daniela Mihaylova
Total population: 
23 200
Source: 
National Statistics Institute, 2014 census
Roma living in the Municipality: 
2 544
Description of the Municipality: 

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Byala Slatina is located in the North-West of Bulgaria, in a rural economically underdeveloped area of the Vratsa Province. It comprises of the town of Byala Slatina and 14 villages with a total population of 23.200.  It is one of the least densely populated areas in the EU as well as Bulgaria.
 
Concentrated in a single neighbourhood, the Roma are the biggest minority in Byala Slatina with 2.600 inhabitants. Within the community there are several sub-groups among them are the Kalayzdhi and Reshetari. Religion in this community is also varied with the majority of Roma practicing Islam, other faiths in the community are Seventh-Day Adventists, Orthodox Christian and Evangelist Christian.

According to a World Bank study from 2014 before the end of the communist regime the vast majority of Roma living in Byala Slatina considered themselves better-off and closer to the ethnic-Bulgarian citizens. Since 2014 an important number of young Roma have emigrated to take advantage of new opportunities for income and the different opportunities that other countries can offer for their families. Another notable current reality is that the number of university graduates among the local Roma has increased in the last years and this has had a positive impact on the political participation of the community.  The Roma population are active participants in elections and they are traditionally represented in the Local Council. Presently, there are 4 Roma Councillors in the City Council of Byala Slatina.

With the signature of the Letter of Commitment by the Mayor, on 3 October 2013, Byala Slatina joined ROMACT.  The Community Action Group (CAG) was set-up with the support of the ROMACT facilitator at the end of January 2014.  The CAG has a core group of 7 members, mostly women (5) who meet in a room which has been provided by the municipality. The CAG previously consisted of more members, but due to family issues, moves to seek employment opportunities and the slow progress of the last period of activities some chose to leave the committee. By the end of October 2014, the representatives of the municipality and the CAG identified and agreed the priorities to meet the development needs of the Roma community. This agreement came after two meetings of the CAG members, a round table discussion on “Improving the situation of Roma communities in the municipality of Byala Slatina” and monthly meetings organized with the Mayor.

The identified needs and priorities are addressed in the Joint Action Plan which expanded along the process. Some of the measures included in this Plan are:

EMPLOYMENT

  • Create conditions for the employment of low-skilled Roma people
  • Organise qualification courses for unemployed Roma people;
  • Assist Participation of the municipality in the state programmes for subsidized employment;
  • Develop and implement a project for a social enterprise;

 
EDUCATION

  • Prevent school drop-outs
  • Provide literacy training for Roma adults;
  • Appoint school mediators in schools and kindergartens;
  • Reduce/eliminate kindergarten fees for poor Roma and non-Roma families;
  • Create a club of "Roma customs and culture" in the Roma neighbourhood;

 
HEALTHCARE

  • Improve the health status of Roma
  • Participate in national programs to provide prophylactic examination for Roma people lacking health insurance;
  • Conduct health-related discussions with Roma people;
  • Distribute information materials, brochures etc.;
  • Design and implement a social service project - "A baby kitchen";

 
INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Improve living conditions in neighbourhoods with the concentrated Roma population
  • Implement a project for the design and construction of technical infrastructure in Roma neighbourhoods in terms of water supply, street network, sanitation;
  • Provide public means of transport from the Roma neighbourhood to the city centre;
  • Provide alternative accommodation in the case of forced eviction of Roma families from their homes which are illegally built or when there is a threat to their safety and health. The measures planned for completion in  2017 are:
  • Needs Assessment for new housing and determining the types of possible new homes;
  • Allocation of municipal land for construction.

The Joint Action Plan , which was included in the Municipal Plan for Integration of Roma 2015-2017, was adopted by the Local Council on 10 December 2014. Some of the needs identified in this document are already addressed, notably those concerning education through the project “Me and my family”, an initiative for early childhood development which is supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. Currently, as a direct result of the project, a building has been renovated and refurbished. The targeted beneficiaries of these services are 2.825 children and 630 parents.
The CAG and the municipality cooperated on different aspects, jointly identified and solved various issues, particularly those concerning the infrastructure for the neighbourhood. As a result of this work,

  • Street lights were installed;
  • The graveyard was cleaned and speed bumps were installed on the streets;
  • Free of charge premises to be used as an office and meeting place for the CAG were provided by the municipality

Timeline Points

14 Oct 2013
Launching of ROMACT/ROMED2
15 Feb 2014
"Little victory" - the road to the Roma graveyard was cleaned by the municipality
15 Apr 2014
Speedbumps installed in the Roma neighborhood by Roma themselves. Street lights installed in several places by the municipality.
15 May 2014
Opening of the CAG office - provided by and furnished by the municipality.
15 Sep 2014
Road to Roma cemetery cleaned
31 Oct 2014
Roundtable with CAG members, local authorities, CoE representative "Improving the situation of Roma communities in the municipality of Byala Slatina"
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