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Roma inclusion in Albania
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Roma inclusion in Albania

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UNDP in Albania works to supports policies and implementation measures designed to avoid exclusion by helping to remove barriers that stand in the way of people realizing their full capabilities. …

UNDP in Albania works to supports policies and implementation measures designed to avoid exclusion by helping to remove barriers that stand in the way of people realizing their full capabilities. Group specific implementation measures (e.g. policy responses and action plans) are of critical importance for Roma and Egyptian communities, in no small part due to European Union accession-related commitments. This presentation highlights UNDP’s support in the Roma Inclusion work, UNDP programme strategy, lessons learned etc. The presentation also contains data on Roma housing policy in Albania as well as a snapshot of Regional Roma Housing Surveys.


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  • Based on this background, UNDP has been a strong supporter and partner of EU’s Roma Inclusion policy and practice in Albania as elsewhere in accession countries and new member states. I flipped thru earlier our analytical work together with the European Commission on measuring social exclusion of Roma in EU member states… In Albania, our work has been hands on in implementing the EU’s support to Roma Inclusion as programmed under IPA 2010 under joint management with UNDP. While the project is still on going some pertinent results to date include…
  • In order to strengthen social and economic links of Roma households in their respective settlements in specific regions, there have been implemented hard and social infrastructure interventions ( i.e. kindergarten, health centers, roads, bridges, sewage, community centers etc) with joint contribution from LGs and UNDP programs. The funded priorities have been identified by R/E communities following participatory planning and budgeting processes (UNDP providing 80% and LG 20% of project costs);Young Roma/Egyptian groups have been mobilized to implement small self-help initiatives such as cleaning of neighborhoods, planting of trees, systematizing public spaces,doing small repairs in community neighborhoods etc with the aim of raising awareness on active citizenship and voluntarism;Social Inclusion of R/E has been promoted as a two sided relation of duty- bearers vs. right-holders ( R/E individuals having both rights and responsibilities: public institutions offering services as per procedures guarantying respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights of R/E individuals);While non-discrimination remains the rational for R/E social inclusion, an extensive emphasis on it may strengthen stigma and discriminatory practices against marginalized communities. Therefore greater focus is dedicated to promotion of cultural diversity as a factor guarantying equal mutual respect and fostering peace and security in society.
  • Local governments inhabited by Roma/Egyptian communities in 7 of 12 Albanian regions, have been supported to plan and implement infrastructure interventions in R/E neighborhoods. preparation of urban plan and construction of sewage in Roma quarter in Driza/Fier has been quite innovative in enabling LGs to envision a well-planned neighborhood with economic and tourist attractions also for non-Roma population. To assist implementation of the urban study, support was provide to finalize part of the sewage system in the Roma neighborhood;Building of bridge and systematization of stream in Egyptian neighborhood in Peqin, Elbasan, increased the safety and quality of life of the Egyptian inhabitants who lived not far from the town center, yet with no investments from LG. The bridge helped to link them with the main road and non-Egyptian neighborhood;Construction of decorative road in Roma neighborhood in Fushe-kruja. The homogeneous Roma quarter had little attention from LG with unpaved and quite narrow road. UNDP jointly with LG and communities constructed a decorative road which improvement the quality of road adding an element of traditional/characteristic design;- Similar infrastructure projects as well as smaller self-help initiatives ( i.e. cleaning of neighborhoods) have been organized in R/E settlements in 7 of 12 Albanian regions ( Fier, Elbasan, Durres, Tirana, Vlora, Korca and Berat)
  • The study conclusions and recommendations for improving legislation, policies and practices to the benefit of Roma communities as well as identifies potential intervention programmes for improving the situation. Improving the housing situation for the Roma is a priority issue conditioning access to other basic rights and therefore interventions in the area of employment, education and health should be accompanied by housing support. A human rights based approach should guide interventions designed to this end, giving due considerations to the followings: (1) While a good legal framework exists, it needs to be further amended in order to ensure eligibility of the Roma living in informality, for standard social services, including the criteria for housing programs.  (2) Awareness on discrimination is not fully achieved. There is a need for awareness raising, training, capacity building and institutional behavioural change of public authorities, leading to avoiding of discriminatory language and attitudes against Albanian citizens of belonging to Roma community.  (3) Solving the housing situation for the Roma needs political will and budget commitment but also cooperation and coordination among various level of central and local governments and international donor community.  (4) While housing is very important, giving it away to families who live in informality and run a street life for years, be they Roma or other, will not solve their problems, unless a multi-sectoral empowerment and integration plan is put in place. Communities need to be involved adequately when discussing housing issues and proposed policies. (5) Improve the social housing framework to be more inclusive of Roma needs, so that more benefit from the programs for the mainstream society. Design of social housing programmes that meet the needs of the Roma will include: Sensitivity to local context. While formulating adequate policies at the national level is important, it is paramount that within the Albanian law context, social housing policies are located at the municipal level; Affordability.The diversified social housing strategies should address housing affordability from both supply and demand side factors by ensuring 1) solutions and technologies that lower the costs of housing provision and management and 2) policies that stimulate social and economic empowering of Roma community. Needs assessment. Development and upgrading of social housing programmes should begin with the identification of the beneficiaries’ needs. Needs assessment should include information on the location of Roma communities, household formation, their way of income generation, level of education and a detailed description of their living conditions. Diversified housing solutions. Beneficiaries should be able to use different programmes to satisfy their needs as well as to combine programmes if needed. Moreover, social housing should also be integrated into sustainable human settlements and contribute to neighbourhood improvement. Specifically, Roma inclusion needs to go beyond housing and requires access to education, employment, health care, etc. Affirmative action (for a specific period of time) can be explored for housing, as it is as already applied for Roma in other sectors. Realistic standards. The proposed models shouldbe realistic and applicable. They should aim to improve gradually the living conditions, without creating shocks from drastic changes in living culture and tradition. Sustainability. long-term sustainability and maintenance of social housing schemes, including the upkeep of infrastructure and reinvestment of resources contribute to longevity and success of the program.(6) Cases of eviction are evidenced and Roma communities fear that more evictions will happen.Local authorities should systematically organize consultations with affected communities, prior to performing a relocation or eviction of informal settlements. In case of eviction, it should be an obligation for local authorities to provide substitute accommodation for all affected persons. Temporary sheltering offered in the new social center in Tufina is a good example of state action to respond to a humanitarian crises caused by forced eviction. The services provided in the center aim at integration and empowerment of the communities and should be offered for a short period of time and should not be considered as an housing solution for Roma families. 
  • Transcript

    • 1. CONTENT • UNDP’s Roma Inclusion Work – UNDP support on Roma (Eastern Europe) – UN Roma Inclusion (EVLC) – EU Support to Roma Inclusion (SSIREC) – Program Strategy – Lessons Learned • Neighborhood rehabilitation/infrastructure development • Regional Roma Housing Surveys • Housing policies analysis and next steps
    • 2. UNDP’s Roma Inclusion Work (cont.)
    • 3. UNDP’s Roma Inclusion Work (cont.)
    • 4. Empowering Vulnerable Local Communities • Civil registration (1644 Roma registered in civil registry and public services offices). • Community mobilization and partnership with LGUs; • More than 20 infrastructure projects in 4 regions (watersupply, road, bridge rehabilitation, river systematization. kindergarten, health/community centers • 200 R/E completed vocational training • 12 R/E NGOs implemented small community projects. • National Action Plan on Roma and web-based monitoring and reporting system on Roma Decade (ROMALB) UN Roma Inclusion (EVLC)
    • 5. UNDP Joint Management 2012-2014 • R/E community dev. plans in 3 regions • 6 priority infrastructure interventions in process (2 completed) • 15 R/E local CSOs trained in project management, etc; 13 implementing small projects through small grants. • Non-traditional vocational training and business dev. services targeting 60 R/E. • R/E role models -in non-discrim. awareness. • Anti-Discrimination Commissioner and People’s Advocate supported in addressing Discrimination and HR issues for R/E • Capacity building and policy advice on Roma Inclusion (integrated services, housing, economic aid, registration. EU Support to Roma Inclusion SSIREC
    • 6. Program Strategy • Integrated empowerment /engagement approach with multi-sectorial interventions at local and central level; • Improving R/E livelihoods (hard and soft infrastructure) in partnership with Local Government Units • R/E active citizens through self-help; • Relying on HR – based approach vs. Charity; • Emphasizing “cultural diversity” in addition to non- discrimination
    • 7. Lessons Learned Visible signs of Roma exclusion can be eradicated in Albania with sustained investment Neighborhood infrastructure rehabilitation is an essential glue;as well as influential in social inclusion. Community development But building houses is not the answer … Hence, inclusive social policies. And, LGU engagement
    • 8. R/E Neighborhood improvement
    • 9. Regional Roma Housing Surveys 2011 UNDP/WB/EC regional survey • Data collection and comparative analyses across countries in 5 new EU member states, Western Balkans and Moldova • 750 Roma households and 350 non-Roma households in each country 2012 – Needs Assessment of R&E Communities in Albania (UNDP and Center For Economic and Social Studies - CESS)
    • 10. Roma Housing Policies Analyses Background Study, 2013 (funded by SDC) • Housing situation and challenges faced by Roma; • International and national legislation and policies guiding and regulating housing issues and Roma inclusion and the status of their implementation; • Public work to improve the Roma housing situation; and • Examples of successful programs in other countries . ROMA Housing Factsheet contains data from 3 above sources
    • 11. Roma Housing Policies Analyses Main findings/implications • Legal framework amendment; • Awareness raising on discrimination; • Political will and budget allocations required to address housing situation(central & local level) • Housing is not all: Multi-sector approach needed • Sensitivity to local context; affordability; realistic standards; sustainability: • Diversified solutions • Evictions to a bare minimum – and done as per the principles and guidelines on forced evictions
    • 12. Immediate Next Steps, within UNDP’s current programme • Further technical analysis of Roma neighborhoods/settlements and needs for legalization/formalization, infrastructure upgrades • Support Ministry of Urban Planning and Tourism and Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth for a new policy strategy on housing in line with the Social Inclusion Strategy • Support Ministry of Urban Planning and Tourism on amending Social Housing legislation; • Partner with LGUs to implement innovative interventions in support of Roma Visible signs of Roma exclusion can be eradicated in Albania with sustained investments