Peshtera

General Information
 
ROMACT Cycle: 
Ongoing
Mayor of the Municipality: 
Mr Nikolay Zaychev
Contact Person within the Municipality: 
Ms Zehra Alish, Deputy Mayor
Facilitators: 
Ms Daniela Mihaylova
Total population: 
18 899
Source: 
Official census - 2011
Roma living in the Municipality: 
8 500
Description of the Municipality: 

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Last update May 2017
 
Located in southern Bulgaria, the town of Peshtera neighbours Batal and Bratsigovo in the Pazardzhik province.  Peshtera is the third largest city in the area after Velingrad and Pazardzhik and the 45th largest in Bulgaria of the 244 cities in the country.
 

Peshtera is also the administrative centre of the municipality. There are several different ethnic groups in Peshtera, there are notable numbers of Turkish, Roma and Vlach ethnicity with ethnic Bulgarians making up the majority. 
The Roma population is concentrated in two neighbourhoods of Peshtera, one of which is has mixed ethnicities. Some of the main issues Roma face in Peshtera are related to the lack of property title documents on illegally built houses which have been built on farmland and therefore are outside jurisdiction of urban planners.  Local authorities continue to look for solutions to this issue.
Another very important problem is the low level of education among the Roma population. Poor education levels result in underemployment and a lack of opportunity for work. While this is not officially recorded, there is a clear connection between the lack of education and job opportunities for the Roma in our area.
One additional issue of concern for this group is the lack of health coverage and access to health services.
 

The ROMACT Process

The Community Action Group (CAG) – made up of Roma citizens and activists – was set up in September 2015. Shortly after, the municipality of Peshtera officially joined the ROMACT programme through the signature of a letter of commitment in November 2015.
In April 2016, the municipality of Peshtera hired a new Roma staff member for the position of “Expert on ethnic and demographic issues”, and they are working closely with the CAG.
At the moment, the CAG has defined the following short-term and long-term priorities:
 

Short-term priorities of the CAGObjective 1
InfrastructureProvide a solution for the unpaid bills for water supply in the 2 Roma settlements
HousingProvide alternative solutions for the people living in the 11 illegal houses that were demolished
Long-term priorities of the CAGObjective 1
InfrastructureInclusion of territories inhabited by Roma within the local urban planning
HealthImpose environmental norms on a local factory to prevent air pollution

Since November 2015, the ROMACT National Support Team has assisted Peshtera authorities to tackle the most the most urgent issues (e.g. the eviction of 11 Roma families from illegally built houses). On the 6th April 2016, we held the first joint meeting of the CAG and the Local Authorities where solutions are discussed to address issues such as illegal housing.
The municipal administration is currently working with the Trust for Social Achievement to allocate free plots of land where Roma could build their homes legally. Together with “Bioved”,  the company who owned the land that the 11 Roma families occupied illegally, funding is being sought to meet the costs of alternative housing (rent) for these families until new, more permanent, housing can be offered. The Trust and “Bioved” have committed to contribute 9000 BGN (approximately 4600 EURO) to cover the financial needs for this group to meet the first year of costs for these families.
The Municipality also took the opportunity of the first joint meeting to present the implementation of the Municipal Action Plan for Roma Inclusion (MAPRI). At the meeting 5 CAG members were appointed to monitor the implementation of the integration strategy. The table below summarises some of the CAG suggestions for updating the MAPRI.

 

ProposalsProposal 1Proposal 2
EducationEmployment of school mediators in all schools in Peshtera
HealthAwareness-raising activities related to early marriages and reproductive health educationEmployment of two health professionals in the two Roma settlements
HousingSecuring municipal land for social housing
OtherCreation of eco-patrols to help prevent unlawful garbage disposal

Timeline Points

25 Oct 2015
Local elections in Bulgaria - Round 1
1 Nov 2015
Local elections in Bulgaria - Round 2
15 Nov 2015
STEP1 - BECOMING COMMITTED - Letter of Commitment signed by the Mayor
5 Jan 2017
Creation of the Municipal Taskforce by the Mayor
28 Feb 2017
Adoption of the Municipality Action Plan for Roma Inclusion
1 Mar 2017
First Taskforce meeting
15 Apr 2017
Municipality submits a project proposal with ROMACT support to OP HRD - "Transnational and Danube partnerships for employment and growth"
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