Tundja

General Information
 
ROMACT Cycle: 
Closed
Mayor of the Municipality: 
Mr Georgi Georgiev
Contact Person within the Municipality: 
Ms Plamena Dimitrova - Senior expert, Department “Culture, education and religion, health and sport”
Facilitators: 
Ms Dora Petkova
Total population: 
22 745
Source: 
2014 National Census
Roma living in the Municipality: 
1 990
Description of the Municipality: 

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The municipality of Tundja ( Тунджа ) is located in South-East Bulgaria, in the Yambol region. It is the administrative centre of 44 villages and has a total population of about 25 000 inhabitants, out of which 15 - 20% are Roma.
Although the Roma population is spread throughout the different villages under the administration of Tundzha, those that are known to concentrate higher percentages are  Zavoy (Завой), Boyadzhik (Бояджик), Krumovo (Крумово), Kukorevo (Кукорево), Drazhevo (Дражево), Hadzhi Dimitrovo (Хаджи Димитрово) and Botevo (Ботево). In these villages, the Roma population could be of one third  - up to half - of the total population.

Like in all rural areas in Bulgaria, the residents of the municipality are facing economic deprivation. Opportunities of employment are provided by larger companies (mainly textile), wineries and furniture producers in the town of Yambol. The unemployment rate among Roma is estimated to be between 15%-20%, with the overall unemployment rate of the municipality evaluated at around 10%. Roma living in the surrounding villages are mostly employed in these larger companies, and have transport ensured to the town. Some of the Roma families have farming as their main subsistance activity. Generally, the unemployment rate of women is considered higher. It is worth noting that in the past years there has been an increasing migration of Roma from Tundja to Western countries, mostly to Germany and Belgium, in search for better job opportunities. Many of the Roma choosing to work abroad support financially their extended families in the village.

In light of the local specificities of the situation of the Roma population, the local administration of Tundja has been showing commitment towards Roma inclusion by striving to address some of the most urgent matters. In fact, in 2016 Tundja was recognised by the European Commission as one example of good practice in terms of Roma integration - particularly for the empowerment and cooperation through Local Action Groups (p 33. of the "Effective Roma integration measures in the Member States 2016" publication of the EC)

In 2007 the municipality adopted a general local development strategy which included specific measures targeting the Roma population. One of the primary areas of investment has been education and early childhood education policies with measures taken meant to encourage Roma children's attendance in school and kindergarten. In this regard, and in line with new national legislation on compulsory pre-school attendance, the municipality waived kindergarten fees for Roma families in 2010 and has been organising extracurricular/non-formal education activities for children. Furthermore, the municipality invested in the vocational training for young adults, in cooperation with local business specialised in viticulture. In this respect, it created a general secondary education facility where experts from partner companies train young people - a majority of whom are Roma - in the professions related to wine production. In 2014 out of the 23 students registered for the vocational training, 20 were of Roma origin. Other projects targeting Roma have been implemented in the municipality with co-financing from the Ministry of Education and the European Social Fund, which had an impact on the attendace of Roma children in primary education.

A key factor for its success in the field of Roma inclusion is the history of self-organizsation within the Roma community. The "Patients with No Asthma" Roma NGO has been working since 2004 with mothers and families in the villages for increased health literacy and access to health care.

Related articles:
Tundja official website - 18/07/2016 - Recognition of the "Tundja" municipality by the European Commission
Tundja official website - 11/04/2016 - Seminar on "Policies for Roma inclusion and planning of projects under the EU operational programmes"
Tundja official website - 14/04/2016 - Round table on "The dialogue between the municipality of Tundja and the active local group"
 

The ROMACT Process

The municipality joined the ROMACT programme in October 2013 after the confirmation of participation from the Mayor, Mr Georgi Georgiev. Immediately after, the Community Action Group (CAG) started to meet and grouped their development needs in four main categories: social infrastructure, education, health and employment. The most acute problems affect the villages of Hadzhi Dimitrovo and Mogila.

In May 2014 the municipality established a Public Council on Ethnic and Integration Issues, which practically institutionalized the dialogue with the CAG as a sign of recognition of the importance of the consultative process with Roma communities. However, the work of the Council is not limited to formal gatherings – the administration and the CAG have ongoing intensive communication, mandatory monthly meetings and sometimes interaction on a daily basis when urgent issues need to be solved.
 
Development needs identified by the municipality administration and the CAG were acknowledged by the Municipal Council and integrated in the Municipal Plan for Roma Integration (MAPRI) which was adopted on 10 March 2015.
In addition, the Annual Action Plan for 2015 was developed jointly by the CAG and representatives of the municipality. 
 

PrioritiesObjective 1Objective 2Objective 3 Objective 4Objective 5
EducationBilingual educational technologies of training for Roma childrenActivities aimed at preserving and developing the cultural identity of Roma childrenWaiving of kindergarten fees for nursery / kindergarten for poor Roma familiesAppointments of qualified and certified assistants of teachers;Organize individual mentoring assisting pupils
HealthAssistance from mediators to access various social and health servicesProphylactic examinations with mobile units in Roma neighbourhoods; Prevention of unwanted and early pregnancy in a dialogue with teenagers and their parentsAwareness raising campaigns on vaccinationSupport for the functioning of mobile medical offices for primary care in Roma neighbourhoods
Housing/InfrastructureAssessment of the needs in Roma neighborhoodsIdentification of suitable plots and construction of social housing for large Roma familiesConstruction of social housing - single family houses in the villages with significant Roma populationElaboration of new detailed plans for villages with significant Roma populationDesign of the technical infrastructure for villages with significant Roma population
EmploymentTraining courses for unemployed personsInvolvement of members of Roma community in projects and programs in the field of social economy under the OP HRD

Reviewed based on joint meetings at the end of 2015, the Annual Action Plan was updated by the CAG and the Local Authority for 2016 and further implemented as described below:
 

PrioritiesMeasure implementedMeasure implementedMeasure implementedMeasure implementedMeasure implemented
Education560 children attended kindergarten for free“School communities - a model for parent activities in small settlements” implemented in 8 schoolsConstruction and equipment of kindergarten in Hadji Dimitrovo for 47 children"Support for pre-school education and training of disadvantaged children" (OP-SESG)Free transportation service to school
Health"Desired spaces - a complex model for integrated services for early childhood development and social inclusion in smaller locations" (OP-HRD)
Housing/InfrastructureConstruction of a playground in Zavoy and BoyadzhikRegulation of 23 construction plots in ZavoyStreet repair works, street lighting and asphalthing in 7 villagesConstruction of a sewage system in Hadzi DimitrovoConstruction of current water network in Boyadzhik
Employment“Training and employment for young people” (OP-HRD) Training and employement for 6 months of 54 persons up to 29 years old from 7 villages

The CAG is a recognized and acknowledged stakeholder by the local institutions in the municipality and has regular meetings with relevant authorities. It is involved in the implementation of measures not only for advocacy but also for data collection. In April 2016, the Monitoring mechanism for the MAPRI was approved by the Local Council and includes CAG members. During the same month, the cooperation with the CAG was also reinforced with the inclusion of a CAG member in the Local Action Group for the development of a Local Development Strategy to be supported by CLLD under the EAFRD.

Furthermore, the municipal staff attended several training and coaching sessions organised by the ROMACT Programme, and benefited from the support of the ROMACT Expert on the question of application for EU Funds. In May 2016, after an evaluation based on the accomplishment of the four ROMACT steps (see timeline below), the ROMACT cycle was considered successfully closed in Tundja.
 

Timeline Points

29 Oct 2013
STEP 1 - BECOMING COMMITTED - Written decision of Mayor / Local Council to join the ROMACT Programme
25 May 2014
STEP 2 - AGREEING ON NEEDS AND PLANS - First Joint Meeting between CAG and LA
10 Mar 2015
STEP3 - TRANSLATING PLANS INTO ACTIONS AND PROJECTS - JAP Adopted
1 Sep 2015
STEP 4 - FUNDING, IMPLEMENTING, AND MONITORING
25 Oct 2015
Local Elections in Bulgaria- 1st Round
15 Nov 2015
Local Elections in Bulgaria- 2nd Round
15 Nov 2015
Coaching, provided by the ROMACT expert, on project planning and funding applications under Operational Programs of the EU
12 Apr 2016
National workshop with LA and CAG representatives on inclusive Roma policy and project planning under Operational Programs of the EU
19 Aug 2016
CLOSING OF THE ROMACT CYCLE IN TUNDJA
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