Better quality of life for Roma communities in Bulgaria


Two girls dancing.
Following the expansion of the school in Pobeda district in the city of Burgas, 240 Roma children can now attend school in their own neighbourhood. © SDC

The Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Bulgaria. Many Roma suffer from social exclusion, discrimination, poverty and unemployment. Social, cultural and economic barriers hinder access to education and healthcare for members of the Roma community. With its contribution to the enlarged EU, Switzerland is supporting projects to improve the living conditions of the Roma in Bulgaria.

Región/País Tema Período Presupuesto
Bulgaria
Mejorar la seguridad social
Prevention
Various social services
01.01.2013 - 30.11.2019
CHF 6'695'773

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.

Between 700,000 and 800,000 Roma live in Bulgaria, accounting for about 10% of the country’s population. The Roma population is anything but homogeneous: according to the most recent official census, conducted in 2011, the Roma are divided into several ethnic subgroups that speak Bulgarian, Romani, Turkish or other languages. Members of the Roma minority often lack health insurance or are inadequately informed about their healthcare rights. Furthermore, the fact that many Roma children do not speak Bulgarian often makes it difficult for them to start school and cope with the Bulgarian school system.

Switzerland supports Bulgaria in implementing the National Strategy for the Integration of Roma (2012– 2020). The aim of this strategy is to integrate marginalised Roma communities into Bulgarian society and thereby reduce their poverty and social exclusion. A particular focus is placed on facilitating access to education and healthcare. The strategy also aims to reduce prejudice and discrimination against the Roma by Bulgaria’s non-Roma population.

Close cooperation with local municipalities

In order to ensure the long-term integration of Roma communities, Switzerland is working closely with the Bulgarian Ministries of Social Affairs, Education and Health. To achieve the social recognition and integration of the Roma, the programme is taking a comprehensive approach encompassing health, education and the promotion of Roma cultural identity and its wider acceptance by Bulgarian society. The programme involves measures and projects that are being implemented in the six municipalities of Sliven, Burgas, Ruse, Montana, Plovdiv and Shumen. To ensure a lasting impact, the municipalities are responsible for implementing the projects.

Promoting education and early childhood development

Switzerland is actively involved in ensuring better access to education, with priority given to the social integration of Roma children into the national school system. The focus is on early childhood development and learning to prepare children for school, as well as on additional support and tutoring for school-age children. The aim is to significantly reduce the drop-out rate in schools and to improve the school performance of Roma children, enabling them to pursue secondary education or vocational education and training. This considerably increases their chances of employment. The Bulgarian municipalities are working together with local NGOs and educational mediators from Roma communities. The educational mediators play a key role, as they enjoy the trust of Roma parents and are better able to convince them of how important regular school attendance is for their children.

Health as a driver of welfare and prosperity

Health mediators also play a key part in promoting health by providing advice on health-related matters and carrying out the valuable task of helping to prevent various diseases. Health mediators thus play an important liaison role between the Roma community and health service providers. In addition, medical centres are being set up in segregated Roma communities, for example in the city of Montana.

One of the projects was the expansion of a primary school in Burgas which mainly serves children from the neighbouring Roma district of Pobeda. Construction work has also begun on two new kindergartens in the municipalities of Sliven and Montana, where about 240 young children from Roma communities will be able to learn Bulgarian and thus become better equipped to start school. 

Thematic Fund Projects

Object 1 – 6 of 6

  • 1
Project completed

Integrated approach for social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups in Plovdiv Municipality: “All together-improved education and health”

01.09.2016 - 30.04.2019

The project Integrated approach for social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups in Plovdiv Municipality: “All together-improved education and health“ will support the Bulgarian Government to implement the National Strategy tor the Integration of Roma in Bulgaria (2012-2020) which aims at improving the living conditions through better access to services and rights for the Roma community and at empowering Roma through strengthened cultural integration and identity, improved acceptance and enhanced Roma participation in decision making/policy institutions.


Project completed

“The interaction with the community – a factor for a better future and successful integration” – Social inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups in Shumen Municipality

01.09.2016 - 30.04.2019

“The interaction with the community – a factor for a better future and successful integration”-project of the municipality of Shumen will support the Bulgarian Government to implement the National Strategy for the Integration of Roma in Bulgaria (2012-2020). The project aims at improving the living conditions through better access to services and rights for the Roma community and at empowering Roma and facilitating better acceptance towards Roma community through strengthened cultural integration and identity.


Project completed

Integrated Project for Social Inclusion of Roma and Other Vulnerable Groups in Montana municipality

01.04.2016 - 30.04.2019

The goal of the project “Integrated Approach for Inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable Groups in Montana Municipality" is to support the Bulgarian Government to implement the National Strategy for the Integration of Roma in Bulgaria (2012-2020) which aims at improving their living conditions through better access to services and rights for the Roma community and at empowering Roma through strengthened cultural integration and identity, improved acceptance and enhanced Roma participation in decision making/policy institutions.


Project completed

Integrated project for Social Inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable groups in Sliven

01.07.2015 - 30.04.2019

The goal of the project “Integrated Approach for Inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable Groups in Sliven Municipality" is to support the Bulgarian Government to implement the National Strategy for the Integration of Roma in Bulgaria (2012-2020) which aims at improving their living conditions through better access to services and rights for the Roma community and at empowering Roma through strengthened cultural integration and identity, improved acceptance and enhanced Roma participation in decision making/policy institutions.


Project completed

Integrated Project for Social Inclusion of Roma and Other Vulnerable Groups in the municipalities of Burgas, Sredets and Malko Tarnovo

01.07.2015 - 30.04.2019

The goal of the project “Integrated Approach for Inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable Groups in Burgas Municipality" is to support the Bulgarian Government to implement the National Strategy for the Integration of Roma in Bulgaria (2012-2020) which aims at improving their living conditions through better access to services and rights for the Roma community and at empowering Roma through strengthened cultural integration and identity, improved acceptance and enhanced Roma participation in decision making/policy institutions.


Project completed

Integrated Approach for Social Inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable Groups in the region of Ruse Municipality

01.07.2015 - 30.04.2019

The goal of the project is to support the Bulgarian Government to implement the National Strategy for the Integration of Roma in Bulgaria (2012-2020) which aims at improving their living conditions through better access to services and rights for the Roma community and at empowering Roma through strengthened cultural integration and identity, improved acceptance and enhanced Roma participation in decision making/policy institutions.

Object 1 – 6 of 6

  • 1