What is the programme about?
Roma and Egyptian communities are among the poorest, most marginalized and socially excluded groups in Albania. Studies show that the level of poverty among Roma is twice as high as the majority population. Low level of educational attainment, high unemployment rate, low monthly incomes, extreme living conditions and direct and indirect barriers in accessing public services are indicators that prevail in the majority of Roma and Egyptians.
"Economic and Social Empowerment for Roma and Egyptians- a booster for social inclusion" project, aims to promote the economic and social empowerment of Roma and Egyptian communities in Albania focusing in the regions of Tirana, Durres, Shkodra and Berat. The project relies on the Roma and Egyptian community led development as well close co-operation with central and local authorities in the targeted regions. The project supports the Government of Albania in its efforts to achieve the objectives set forth in the National Action Plan for the Integration of Roma and Egyptians, 2016-2020, while promoting respect for human rights, gender mainstreaming and intercultural dialogue, as prerequisites for the country’s EU integration.
The project empowers Roma and Egyptian communities to participate in local planning processes and prioritization of infrastructure development of Roma and Egyptian neighborhoods through Area-Based-Approach. It works to build capacities of Roma and Egyptian civil society organizations to be able to implement small scale projects in response to community needs. The project also supports Roma and Egyptian individuals through skills, employment and entrepreneurship. The government is supported for delivering inclusive integrated family based social services and to implement and monitor the National Action Plan for the Integration of Roma and Egyptians, 2016-2020.
Work-package 1: Skills, employment and entrepreneurship for Roma and Egyptian women, men and youth
Inequality between Roma and Egyptians and majority population in the job market, especially for women, is significant in Albania. The activities of this work package aim to support Roma and Egyptians’ inclusion in active employment programmes, education and vocational training opportunities and in governmental institutions, intending to activate their productive potential and to support their integration in the labour market, ultimately narrowing the employment gap between these minorities and the majority of the population.
Work-package 2: Community Led Local Development for Roma and Egyptian inclusion
Supporting the ground for Roma and Egyptian civil society and activists and local administration to work together and implementing practical policies on Roma and Egyptian inclusion is crucial in the process of combating poverty and social exclusion. Roma and Egyptian local communities in Tirane, Durres Shkodra and Berat will be mobilized into Community Counselling Forums (CCFs) for prioritizing local needs and implementing relevant actions (e.g. self-help activities on youth, culture, education, environment etc.) in close co-operation with local authorities. Municipalities will be supported to design Local Action Plans on Roma and Egyptians, while Roma and Egyptian CSOs will be supported through capacity building and grant schemes on local initiatives.
Work-package 3: Improving access to basic services (education, health, social care, civil registration)
Roma and Egyptians are less likely to meet the eligibility criteria for basic and social services because of the lack of personal documents or a formal residence transfer, illiteracy or inability to complete the application forms, highly complicated procedures, possession of ownership on lands they do not possess de facto, etc. The project will particularly support Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health and municipalities to design packages and delivering integrated community based social services targeting families and children. A programme on communication for behaviour change model will get established to influence attitudes and behaviours of public servants at national and local level.
Work-package 4: Building capacities and supporting implementation and monitoring of the National Action Plan for the Integration of Roma and Egyptians (NAPIRE) 2016-2020
At the national level, the project will strengthen the capacity of the government to monitor implementation of the National Action Plan for the Integration of Roma and Egyptians in the Republic of Albania 2016-2020. Improvement and updating of the National Electronic Data Collection System ROMALB will happen at the national and local level to ensure disaggregated data on Roma and Egyptians feeds monitoring and reporting. The project will support training of national and local officers and of civil society organizations on monitoring and reporting on Roma and Egyptian related policies.
What have we achieved so far?
1. Skills, employment and entrepreneurship for Roma and Egyptian women, men and youth.
The project supported 883 (400F) Roma and Egyptians in four targeted municipalities to break the cycle of poverty, activate their productive potential, build their employment skills and find a job or get self-employed in the labour market through their involvement in the seven employment promotion programs designed by ESERE, job mediation and aligned with active labour market measures of the Government.
Six Roma women entrepreneurs from Tirana were part of the Women Entrepreneurship Programme - a joint programme of ESERE Project and Tirana Municipality launched in December 2017, which combined grant financing up to an exceptional amount of LEK 500,000/each business plan to Roma/Egyptian women winning entrepreneurship ideas.
In the framework of the Public Works Scheme, ESERE Project, together with Eco Tirana and Tirana Municipality, run the Transitory Program for Roma and Egyptian Recyclers in Tirana (TPR). 50 Roma and Egyptian beneficiaries were contracted by ECO Tirana for 8 months to conduct the door to door collection of recyclable waste.
The project designed a training book and course curricula on Life Skills and Basic Literacy endorsed by three ministries (the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth and the Ministry of Finance and Economy) to become part of the curricula in schools, vocational education training centers and community centers of Albania.
2: Community Led Local Development for Roma and Egyptian inclusion
The project empowered Roma and Egyptian communities, encouraged their activism to participate in local planning processes, prioritization of infrastructure development and identification of community actions: (i) 13 Community Counselling Forums (CCFs) were organized to prioritize local needs and implement relevant actions; (ii) 13 Community Upgrading Projects (CUPs) mainly involving infrastructure upgrading interventions were identified by the Roma and Egyptian communities and implemented by ESERE in partnership with respective municipalities contributing to the improvement of the living conditions and access to public services of more than 10,000 Roma and Egyptians.
The project designed a Participatory Planning Guideline for Local Government authorities and prepared 4 Roma and Egyptians Local Action Plans in four targeted municipalities in close consultation with Roma and Egyptian communities already endorsed by the respective municipal councils and being implemented contributing to improved access of Roma and Egyptians to local public services. It supported 20 small scale projects implemented by Roma and Egyptian NGOs to facilitate access to public services for Roma and Egyptian community members.
3: Improve access to basic services (education, health, social care and civil registration)
The project contributed to improved access to basic public services for over 3,700 Roma and Egyptians in four targeted municipalities through the (i) design and implementation of the Pilot Model of Integrated Community Based Social Services (ICBSS) in partnership with the municipalities and four CSOs with expertise in service provision ensuring provision of a core set of services and enabling local governments to expand and improve quality and accessibility of public services, (ii) designed and implemented a Behavioral Change Model in partnership with the Albanian School of Public Administration (ASPA) by training 107 public servants at central and local level to adopt inclusive service-oriented behaviors and attitudes toward Roma and Egyptian, (iii) mainstreaming two models for inclusive education into public education system by implementing the basic literacy and life skills curricula in schools and early part-time primary education model benefiting over 2,600 Roma and Egyptian students, (iv) transformation of four schools in into community centers where 140 activities were organized benefiting 1772 students and 964 parents.
4: Provide support to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the National Action Plan for the Integration of Roma and Egyptians (2016-2020) at national, regional and local level
The project contributed to strengthening the capacities of the local and central government to (i) design 15 inclusive thematic policy responses aligned with NAPREI 2016-2020, (ii) trained and coached 240 public officials to use systematically the ROMALB monitoring system to feed information on implementation on NAPREI 2016-2020 and (iii) report progress on implementation of NAPREI 2016-2020 through publication of three annual progress reports (2016, 2017, 2018) where the priority areas of early childhood and primary education, access to health care, employment and civil registration mark progress, while social housing and social protection require more efforts and support from the government at central and local level.
The project promoted its activities in a series of publications (16 short documentaries, bi-annual newsletters and brochures) in the traditional and social media highlighting the importance of empowerment of Roma and Egyptian communities for the development of Albanian society, value of cultural diversity and showcased best practices and successful role models which challenge existing stereotypes about Roma and Egyptians and raised awareness on challenges and difficulties faced by these communities.