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Last update 18/07/2016
Peshtera is a town in southern Bulgaria, located near the towns of Batal and Bratsigovo, in the Pazardzhik Province. It is the third largest city in the area after Velingrad and Pazardzhik, and the forty-fifth largest in Bulgaria out of 244 cities.
Peshtera is also the administrative centre of the municipality. There are several ethnic groups in Peshtera, with Bulgarians making up the majority, and Turkish, Roma and Vlach minorities.
The Roma population is concentrated in two neighbourhoods in Peshtera, one of which is inhabited by other ethnic groups as well. Some of the main issues Roma face in Peshtera are related to the the lack of property documents on illegally built houses (built on farmland), and which are outside the reach of the local urban planning. At the moment, local authorities are looking for solutions to respond to this particular issue.
Another very important problem is the low level of education among the Roma population, which renders Roma citizens unable to engage on an equal footing on the job market. This is thus, directly related to the hight rate of unemployment among Roma, a fact known by local stakeholders but not officially recorded in the labour offices, since many Roma in Peshtera do not register in these offices.
Another concerning issue is the high number of Roma citizens without health coverage, and the consequent lack of adequate access to health services.
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 staff member of Roma origins for the position of “Expert on ethnic and demographic issues”, who already started working with the CAG.
At the moment, the CAG has defined the following short-term and long-term priorities:
|Short-term priorities of the CAG||Objective 1|
|Infrastructure||Provide a solution for the unpaid bills for water supply in the 2 Roma settlements|
|Housing||Provide alternative solutions for the people living in the 11 illegal houses that were demolished|
|Long-term priorities of the CAG||Objective 1|
|Infrastructure||Inclusion of territories inhabited by Roma within the local urban planning|
|Health||Impose environmental norms on a local factory to prevent air pollution|
Since November 2015, the ROMACT National Support Team facilitated the tackling of the most urgent issues (e.g. the eviction of 11 Roma families from illegally built houses) by the local authorities. The first joint meeting of the CAG with the Local Authorities took place on 6 April 2016, which was the occasion to present solutions envisaged in this regard.
The municipal administration is currently working with the Trust for Social Achievement on the allocation of free land plots where Roma could build their homes legally. Together with “Bioved” - the company owning the land off which 11 Roma families were evicted - these stakeholders intend to initiate a fund to cover costs related to rent for those Roma families affected by the evictions. In fact, they agreed that each party would contribute with 9000 BGN (approx. 4600 EUR) to cover for the financial needs for the first year.
The Municipality also took the opportunity of the first joint meeting to present the implementation of the Municipal Action Plan for Roma Inclusion (MAPRI). The table below summarises some of the CAG suggestions for updating the MAPRI.
Moreover, five CAG members were appointed on this occasion to monitor the implementation of the integration strategy and the MAPRI.
|Proposals||Proposal 1||Proposal 2|
|Education||Employment of school mediators in all schools in Peshtera|
|Health||Awareness-raising activities related to early marriages and reproductive health education||Employment of two health professionals in the two Roma settlements|
|Housing||Securing municipal land for social housing|
|Other||Creation of eco-patrols to help prevent unlawful garbage disposal|