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Support to Roma Decade

Roma Action project

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naslovnacapljinaHilfswerk Austria International (HWA), in partnership with organisation Arbeiter – Samariter – Bund Deutschland (ASB) and association Kali Sara – RIC and in the close cooperatoin with fourteen municipalities/towns (Tuzla, Lukavac, Gracanica, Novo Sarajevo, Kakanj, Centar Sarajevo, Zenica, Bihac, Krupa, Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje, Capljina, Bijeljina, Vukosavlje and Zvornik), and four Ministries (Federation Ministry of displaced persos and refugees, Canton Tuzla – Ministry for work, social policy and return; Government of Una Sana Canton, Zenica Doboj Canton – Ministry for Labour, social policy and refugees) through conducting of all planned activities ensured that all project activities have been met.naslovnagorica

Roma Action project is one of the most valuable and the most significant projects of support to the inclustion of Roma national minority that has ever been implemened in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its total value is 3.036.856 Euro, out which the European Union provided 2,5 million Euro, and the rest  has been covered by B&H authorities of all levels. Besides solving the housing issues for 149 Roma families in 14 Municipalities/towns in the entire B&H along with the reconstruction of the accompanying infrastructure and the appropirate sustainability measures, the project has been a support to the implementation of Roma Action plans in B&H with a contribution to the improvement of the living conditions and socio-economic inclusion of the marginalised Roma population with the active inclusion and participation of local authorites. The achieved project results have provided a significantly better quality of life for the Roma in  the project implementation Municipalities/towns.

Apart from the co-financing, Municipalites/towns participating in the project have actively supported the inclusion of the Roma, participated in the selection of beneficiaries and following of all project activities and assisted with obtaining all neccessary documentation and permits. Municipalities/towns in which new facilites were built (social housing) provided the locations, neccessary documents and permits, as well as the connections to utility infrastructure. Čapljina Municipality is a special example since, upon an intervention by the EU, OSCE; UNHCR; US Embassy in B&H, Roma citizens and the other organizations, allocated land and all necessary documentation for five individual housing units that will be the property of the beneficiaries who will have solidly constructed homes for the first time in their lives after having spent their lives at the garbage dumps in the improvised facilities without water, electricity, sewage and other minimum living conditions.

Taking into consideration a fact that there is a large number of socially vulnerable Roma families who have no property at all and who did not receive any housing assistance through most of the projects implemented to far, HWA, along with the project partner ASB planned and constructed seven buildings with 64 housing units using the model of social housing in Bihać, Kakanj, Municipality Centar Sarajevo, Zenica, Bijeljina, Bosanska Krupa and Tuzla.

The housing for the remaining project beneficiaries, 85 families, who have been selected in line with the book of rules for selection of beneficiaries that was published by the B&H Ministry for human rights and refugees for all projects that are being implemented as the support to the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015, has been resolved through construction and reconstruction of the housing units that they own.

The project additionally provided for the better social inclusion of the Roma families through the promotion of registration into citizens registry books, facilitation of access to educatoin, employment and health care through organising workshops and direct work at the field that was implemented by the partner association Kali Sara RIC with its fourteen field cooperators. More than 300 persons have been informed and counselled through these workshops.

The foreseen support to socio-economic measures for improvement of living conditions, self-employment and income generation was, in agreement with the EUD, for the most part redirected to assisting Roma families who sustained major damages in the floods in May 2014.

The total of 246 families struck by the floods were assisted with emergency measures, parcels with foor and sanitary products. The remaining funds were used to procure and deliver 11 individual grants (machinery, greenhouses and live kettle) for beneficiaries in Municipalities Čapljina and Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje and thereby it ensured the economic inclusion through the measure of sustainability.

 

HWA support to Roma Decade 2005-2015

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Between 25,000 and 30,000 Roma are estimated to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina according to recent research. 19,500 persons or 4,500 households require some type of assistance described in the Strategy and Action Plan. Other estimates consider that Roma population in Bosnia and Herzegovina could be estimated to 76,000 persons or 2% of the total population. More detailed information regarding the housing situation of Roma can be found in chapter 3.4.

Problems identified in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In 2004 ERRC reported that several years after the warring parties had ratified the Dayton Peace Agreement (Nov. 1995) that provided for the return of refugees into the country, many Roma families who had returned to Bosnia from Western Europe still did not have access to their pre-war homes which were occupied or destroyed. Many of these families were temporarily placed in unauthorised and substandard locations or settlements with no water supply or sanitary infrastructure.

It was repeatedly said that the substandard housing conditions of Roma negatively affect their access to education and employment, as well as access to healthcare institutions and generally prompt deterioration in the health of people living in these settlements, hence the priority given to housing by the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Remaining challenges identified during the implementation of Roma housing projects include:

  • The process of legalisation of illegally constructed buildings;
  • Housing projects for homeless and refugees/returnees;
  • The lack of direct resources of Roma beneficiaries; as a consequence, families are not sufficiently involved in the re/construction and maintenance bills are a problem for certain Roma families. Beneficiaries of projects are expected to contribute a minimum.

The need for capacity-building for Roma communities and certain municipalities in order to have them fully contributing in the implementation and monitoring of projects

Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the Decade of Roma Inclusion on 4 September 2008. The following year started the implementation of the Action Plan on Roma Housing adopted in July 2008.

The Roma Decade Housing Action Plan[1] includes the following three main objectives:

  • The urban development of Roma settlement (settlements inhabited by Roma) and legalisation of individual housing buildings;
  • Training and raising awareness of Roma and society at large about housing legislation and pertinent issues, Romani culture, etc.;
  • Planning and construction of new housing buildings through social, donor and credit programmes

During the conflict each of the ethnic groups established their own administrations that among other things, administered 'abandoned' property. Legislation was enacted in all areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina that deprived individuals of their property and allocated such property to other individuals on either a temporary or permanent basis. Property was supposed to be allocated to individuals with humanitarian needs, but often was not done so[2].

In 2009 HWA performed the Study “Assessment of needs for social housing in Bosnia and Herzegovina” under a contract with the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees.

The purpose of the research was to obtain information on total social housing needs in Bosnia and Herzegovina covering 12 most vulnerable categories by gender and age. The research included families with unsolved housing problem and excluded persons with temporary right to stay in the municipalities (displaced persons and refugees).

A total of 119 municipalities (84.4%) answered the survey. The analysis of the results showed that 28,322 households were in need for social housing, i.e. more than 53,000 persons. 77% of these households were living in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), whilst 23% were living in Republika Srpska (RS).

The categories of beneficiaries included in the survey and the number of households concerned were the following:

  1. Households with extremely low incomes (below poverty line) – 8,182 households;
  2. Households of minority groups (except for Roma) – 88 households;
  3. Roma households – 1,391 households (see below);
  4. Families of killed war veterans – 4,583 households;
  5. Households with disabled persons (except for the civil victims of war) – 8,659 households;
  6. Households with the civil victims of war – 2,597 households;
  7. Households of single parents – 968 households;
  8. Households with under-aged children without parental care – 336 households;
  9. Households placed in collective centres (except for the displaced persons) – 395 households;
  10. Households placed in temporary accommodation – 553 households;
  11. Persons living in improvised accommodations (containers, sheds, garages) – 359 households;
  12. Homeless people (people without shelters of any kind) – 219 households.

1,256 households in the whole country were considered as most vulnerable as they belonged to two and more of the abovementioned categories. 1,391 were Roma families (i.e. 5.968 persons). This included 1,079 Roma families in 31 municipalities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), and 312 Roma families in eight municipalities of Republika Srpska (RS).

As regards the housing project for Roma for the year 2009, the total project costs – for a duration of 18 months - amounted to 2,336,300 KM. The Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees covered 1,553,000 KM (66% of total costs), whilst HWA, municipality and other ministries jointly covered 783,700 KM (34% of total costs).

Direct beneficiaries included Roma families who were residents in targeted municipalities and who had not solved their housing problem and/or lived in inhabitable housing units. The total number of Roma beneficiaries was 70 families (about 400 persons) from the municipalities of Zenica (16 families), Kiseljak (15 families), Jajce (19 families) and Bijeljina (20 families).

Example of the project in Zenica (social housing for Roma): the 16 Roma families (75 persons) who benefited from the project were living in collective centres and used to live – before the war –in now fully damaged barracks belonging to Željezara (Kasine and Blatuši). They were granted to right to use the flats for the period of five years. Families must pay the rent, maintenance and utilities and are obliged to send their children to school regularly. Every five years their status and right for social housing is re-examined.

As regards the housing project for Roma for the year 2010, the total project costs – for a duration of 12 months and for two municipalities (Tuzla and Banovići) - amounted to 752,000 KM (600.000 KM covered by MHRR and 152,000 KM covered by HWA/municipality/other ministries).

Direct beneficiaries were Roma families who were residents in the two targeted municipalities and who did not have solved housing issue and/or lived in inhabitable housing units.

The total number of Roma beneficiaries was 28 families (about 100 persons), i.e. 15 families in Tuzla and 13 families in Banovići.

Methodology

In all key phases (beneficiaries’ selection, best contractor, technical inspection, over-handing and technical acceptance of works) all relevant actors were involved, i.e.:

  • partner municipalities (and their departments for social work);
  • Roma representatives;
  • involved ministries (MHRR and FMROI);
  • HWA.

Tender procedures were prepared in accordance with the Law on Public Procurement of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The selection of beneficiaries was done on the basis of a public call in accordance to pre-established criteria by the Committee for the Selection of Beneficiaries (CSB).

Use of alternative methodology in case of eventual non-cooperation and/or avoidance of fulfilment of obligation by other project stakeholders;

 

Results of the projects housing for Roma 2009/2010

 

Location

Planned number of housing units

Done

Kiseljak, settlement Hrastovi

15

12

Jajce, settlement Skela, Kuprešani

19

24

Zenica, settlement Brist - social housing

16

16

Bijeljina, RS

20

24 + infrastructure

 

76 housing units and 5 septic tanks (out of 70 planned) were totally built or reconstructed. The building/reconstruction of 28 housing units inTuzla and Banovići is under progress.

Problems identified during this project during the selection process of beneficiaries:

  • in one municipality, there was a lack of co-operation and a lack of mutual respect among Roma associations and their representatives;
  • there was sometimes selective information about the public call distributed to potential beneficiaries;
  • there was a need for additional check regarding socially vulnerable families due to incorrect information given by representatives so as to ensure that project conditions were respected;

Problems identified during this project as regards standards and project knowledge:

  • there has been sometimes disinformation due to lack of knowledge about the project goals, conditions and procedures; e.g. illegal housing units could not be part of the project;
  • housing expectations were sometimes too high. Project standards means creation of minimum unified standards for living in accordance to the document “Minimum housing conditions for reconstruction and construction of housing units for returnees” published by the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees.

HWA recommendations:

  • Keep the positive practice and transparent work of the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees HRR with the use of public call for projects;
  • Offer solutions for the most socially vulnerable Roma families (homeless), with the use of social housing models;
  • Additionally strengthen local capacities and educate governmental and non-governmental sector (Roma associations) in Project Cycle Management (PCM), public procurement procedures and tender procedures;
  • Initiate and follow-up the process of legalisation of houses in municipalities;
  • Involve all stakeholders in both the project implementation and, even more important, in the selection of project beneficiaries;
  • Include various levels of local authorities in the project co-funding;
  • Create integrated projects: reconstruction of houses, infrastructure, sustainability and local capacities building.

 

HWA continue to support Roma population through new EC and MHRR projects in 2012-2013-2014.



[2] See “The Right to Housing and Property Restitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina: a case study” by Paul Prettitore (2003).

 

Housing for Roma in BiH 2009

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Program aims: Support in implementation of the Action Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina in solving the housing problems of Roma population within the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015

Project aims: Improvement of status, living conditions and social inclusion of Roma population in BiH through construction of new housing units for Roma families who do not have housing problem solved and temporary live in a collective center in the region of the partner municipality Zenica in Federation BiH

Achieved results:
 
▪ Constructed two resident buildings each with 8 flats (in total 16) for Roma in Zenica,
▪ Qualitative housing for 16 Roma families in municipality Zenica achieved
▪ Given contribution to social inclusion of Roma through improvement and normalization of their living standard as well as enabling the active involvement of Roma associations into the project implementation in cooperation with local association „Romano Centro“ Zenica

Project beneficiaries: Primary project beneficiaries are Roma families who are residents in targeted municipalities and do not have solved housing problem and/or live in unsuitable housing units

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