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STEPS IN KAOLINOVO MUNICIPALITY FOR COMBINING THE EFFORTS OF THE COMMUNITY ACTION GROUP AND THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES

January 03
17:14 2018

Kaolinovo Municipality became part of the community of the Bulgarian municipalities participating in the ROMACT program in April 2017 and within a few months there were already significant achievements. In order to discuss the accomplished tasks and to plan the next steps for solving the problems of the local community, the ROMACT team, the Kaolinovo municipality and the COMMUNITY ACTION GROUP (CAG) organized a joint meeting on 13.12.2017. Special guest of the event was Ms Anna Oprisan, Program officer of the ROMACT Program at the Council of Europe. Also, Mrs. Lilia Makaveeva – national program officer of the ROMACT program for Bulgaria, Dian Dankov, facilitator of the program, Kamen Makaveev, ROMACT expert, Mr. Turzhan Ferad – Deputy Mayor, Mrs. Fatme Hassan – Secretary of the Municipality Kaolinovo and Project Coordinator, Mr. Zia Nasuf – Chairman of the Municipal Council of Kaolinovo and representatives of the MAG.

 The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness among local government representatives about what has been achieved so far under the ROMACT program; presentation of the main findings from the community survey conducted in the Kaolinovo Municipality; taking first steps towards reaching agreement between the local government and the CAG – Kaolinovo on the identified needs of the community during the survey.

kaolinovoThe meeting was opened by Ms. Ana Oprisan, who presented the ROMACT program: participating countries, the main objectives and tasks and the implementation of the program in Bulgaria. Diyan Dankov presented the program’s achievements so far, namely: in March an agreement with the municipality of Kaolinovo was signed for the implementation of the ROMACT program and subsequently the mayor appointed a coordinator and contact persons. After an intensive work on identifying active members of the Roma community, the Community Action Group (CAG) was also established as an active participant in the implementation of the program and an active stakeholder for solving community problems beyond the program, as well. At the same time, stakeholders were identified and a baseline study was carried out. An assessment of the capacity of local authorities was also carried out. As a next step of the program, the municipality and the team of ROMACT created a municipal working group for implementation of the local policy for integration of the Roma by order of the mayor of Kaolinovo municipality – Taskforce. Representatives of the municipal administration, the Labor Office Directorate – Kaolinovo, representatives of the school network, mayors of settlements, civic organizations, cultural institutions, representatives of theCommunity Action Group – Kaolinovo will participate in this working group. On 24 November, the first Working Group meeting was held and the Group’s Rules was adopted during the meeting

 In addition, representatives of municipal administrations had the opportunity to participate in: National EC Seminar under the ROMACT program in June 2017; seminar “Planning Quality Projects for Social Inclusion in European Programs”; modular training “Approaches to work in and with the Roma community”.

 kaolinovo 2Recently, representatives of the CAG were prepared by the ROMACT team to collect survey data and assess the needs of the community, as well as prioritize the needs and relevant activities. They have been able to conduct a survey of the local Roma community and identify priority needs that need to be addressed. The survey covered 102 households from 5 settlements of the municipality – Todor Ikonomov, Takach, Branichevo, Lyatno and Dolina. Locations are selected based on the presence of vulnerable communities in them, and households are randomly selected. Some of the most important findings of this study are:

- low education – only 13% of respondents over the age of 18 years have completed secondary education. People with 5-7 grade (56%)  have the biggest share and 22% have completed primary education. 85% of school-age children attend school regularly, but the remaining 25% point the lack of funds for textbooks and clothing and poor skills in Bulgarian language as main reasons for their irregular school attendance;

- 50% of the respondents are not insured and have no right to use health services under the National Health Insurance Fund;

- Unemployment rates are high: only 20% are currently working, nearly 70% are people who have been unemployed for more than one year, and 10% are registered with the Labor Bureau.

 Regarding the lack of textbooks for the students, the ROMACT team managed to provide 15 sets of textbooks in the village of Todor Ikonomovo (via TSA Equal Chance Program) and 16 textbooks in the village of Kaolinovo (through the Program of the Bulgarian-American Society).

 After the ROMAT expert, Kamen Makaveev, presented the findings of the study, at the end of the meeting, the participants made several general decisions:

 – A thorough analysis of community needs and priorities will be carried out and presented in the next working period;

- The analysis should serve to update the Municipal Action Plan for the Roma Integration (MAPRI)

- ROMACT program will provide expert support for the preparation of project proposals tailored to the needs of the community and will provide information on funding opportunities.

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