Helping Roma and Egyptian communities boost their economic activity

Jul 11, 2014

Roma community members discussing their development priorities

Sami is a member of Roma Community in Llakatund Village, Vlore. He is a father of 12 children and has to provide for his big family of 14 members.

We met Sami while he was taking his products in the village market.

 “Before, It was so difficult to transport these crops to the market-Sami says, because the road was terrible. All the fresh products were spoiled by the time I arrived at the market. Today we have the new road which enables me to take the products I grow in my garden in the village market and earn some money to provide for my big family”. Sami is so happy that the road he and other community members wanted is now built.

“We thought, it was just a joke when we were asked to participate in the community meetings and decide about the development works we wanted. Soon we came to learn that it was true. It is the first time in my life that somebody takes into account our priorities. Of course it was difficult to decide on the most pressing development needs. The list was huge. Somebody wanted a kindergarten, somebody wanted a playground for children, and somebody else wanted a health center. At the end we concluded that a road would be beneficial to everyone and I believe it is. My neighbours can confirm this”

Four hundred inhabitants from Roma and Egyptian communities and 600 other community members living in Llakatund village, from now on, can easily access the village center, as well as use the road for economic activities.  This road, around half a kilometer long is connecting this area, populated mostly by Roma and Egyptians with the other parts of the village.

The new road was a priority identified by the communities themselves. With the assistance of UNDP, community development plans were drafted in cooperation with a myriad of partners from local government and communities themselves. This investment includes the sewerage system and the building of a new ramp that helps children easily access the elementary school in the neighborhood.

This new intervention is also helping some Roma and Egyptian Communities boost their economic activity.

While talking to Roma community members, we noticed that the asphalt on the road was all green, covered by “Trumez- Saturea Montana” a medicinal plant growing naturally in the area.  

Bujar Taho,the  Project Manager says: “Roma and Egyptians found an original way to make use of the road. Vehicles passing on the road press the herbs and divide the flowers (the needed part) from the stems. They deliver flowers to local companies which process and trade them mainly in the international markets”

Collection and trade of this medicinal plant is an activity that engages a considerable number of Roma and Egyptian Communities in Albania. Particularly in Llakatund, the new road has shortened the distance, thus offering better access to the community services and reducing the transportation cost for the medicinal plants activity. This is generating income for the community members and is helping some of them boost their economic activity.

This intervention is part of the “Supporting Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptian Communities” project, funded by European Union and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth. The project is implemented in the regions of Berat, Korca and Vlora. It works to promote the social inclusion and empowerment of Roma and Egyptian communities through encouraging participatory planning for infrastructure development, strengthening capacities of Roma and Egyptian civil society organizations.

The project also promotes employability and entrepreneurship of the Roma and Egyptian community members. IT also assists with the implementation and monitoring of the National Decade Action Plan for Roma, as well as fostering respect for human rights and cultural diversity.

The project started in July 2012 and is scheduled to end in December 2014.

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