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Vernești is a commune located in the proximity of the municipality of Buzău in Romania. It comprises 11 villages with Vernești acting as administrative centre. The largest Roma population can be found in the village of Cândeşti, with several groups present among them: lăutari (musicians), Roma vătraşi (sedentarised Roma) and in a lesser proportion Kalderash Roma. Out of the total population of 8633 according to the latest available Census, 754 persons had declared themselves as Roma, representing roughly 10% of the population of the commune. The unofficial estimate place the Roma population at around 2 000 individuals.
The education level of the Roma community is overall low, with around 17% not having finalised primary and secondary education, and around 9% without any formal education. The community also faces serious issues concerning unemployment with more than 50% of the population inactive, and only around 33% of the population having a professional/vocational training. In terms of public utilities, most Roma households in Cândeşti are not connected to the sewerage system. In a particular difficult situation are the families living in a segregated area of the village (commonly refered to as "under the hill"), an area where the poorest Roma families moved by necessity some 15 years before. Roads in this area are particularly difficult to access and constant flooding renders them inaccessible altogether.
The ROMACT Programme was initiated in Vernesti with the signature of the Letter of Commitment by the Mayor of the municipality on 21 October 2016. A Community Action Group (CAG) was created shortly after as an open structure for participation, where representatives of all Roma groups interact with the ROMACT facilitator, Mr Calin Iosif.
The community, after a series of coaching sessions and debates formulated the following priorities:
|Short-term priorities||Objective 1||Objective 2||Objective 3|
|Education||Tackle the poor attendance of Roma children in kindergarten activities|
|Infrastructure||Reparations of roads in the village||Provide possibilities of land plots for new Roma families||Provide clean running water to the segregated area where the poorest Roma families live|
|Health||Tackle the poor coverage of vaccination for Roma children||Tackle the risk of hepatits epidemics in the segregated area inhabited by the poorest Roma familie|
|Other||Hire a Roma expert within the municipality||Tackle de issue of lack of registration documents for infants|
|Long-term priorities||Objective 1||Objective 2|
|Housing||Solving the issue of lack of property documents|
|Other||Setting up of a social centre||Completion of the Community Centre in Candesti|