From 2007, Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization (EHO), ACT member from Serbia, is successfully implementing sanitation and house up grading (Housing) projects in substandard Roma settlements in Serbia.
Roma is the most vulnerable and marginalized minority in Serbia. According to the 2011 Census of Population, there are 147,604 Roma in Serbia (unofficially around 450,000). The poverty of Roma is ten times deeper than among the general population. Roma has a very low level of education, high unemployment rate, and poor housing conditions. Roma is facing multiple discrimination. Another challenge is a growing number of returnees from Western Europe, which will probably increase in the next years. Most of returnees/readmitted people in Vojvodina region (Northern Serbia) belong to Roma community. Thus Roma (resident or readmitted people) are under higher risk considering enjoyment of human rights and irregular migration.
EHO’s work on improving housing conditions in substandard Roma settlements is based on the Dweller Driven Roma Settlement Upgrading Model, which has been designed in partnership with HEKS-EPER, Switzerland. It is a participatory working approach, where the project provides building material, technical advise, coaching and supervision, while the target group arranges for building/construction works (supervised self (re-)construction). This mobilizes and empowers local community and secures ownership over the process and project sustainability.
During last 10 years, the Dweller Driven Roma Settlement Upgrading Model has been implemented in cooperation with 15 municipalities in Serbia. The project has supported about 3’100 Roma, living in 28 substandard Roma settlements and in non-Roma neighbourhoods at 42 locations in Serbia, resulting in improved housing conditions (more than 900 new bathrooms, around 120 new rooms, around 700 small house repairs, 120 massive house reconstructions and building of 25 Core Houses). The project also provoked financing from local government (besides infrastructure investments such as water, sewerage, and electricity) – investments to improve individual housing conditions in the value of 950’000 EUR. Thanks to editing and publishing
The project also provoked financing from local government (besides infrastructure investments such as water, sewerage, and electricity) – investments to improve individual housing conditions in the value of 950’000 EUR. Thanks to editing and publishing The Guide and Toolbox and the Construction Manual for Dwellers on Dweller Driven Roma Settlement Upgrading Model, a transfer of “know-how” on Roma housing model to the partner agencies in Kosovo and Romania could be achieved. The results show that minimal housing conditions are crucial for improving socio – economic position of Roma, enhancing social inclusion, preventing migration and/or easier and quicker reintegration of returnees (people returned to Serbia from Western European countries under Readmission Agreements).
In 2016, EHO (with the support of the Roma community and local government), will improve housing conditions for 110 socially disadvantaged families in 4 municipalities in Serbia.
Based on the same project set up/housing model, EHO has realized 400 house rehabilitations in 4 municipalities, heavily affected by May 2014 Floods in Serbia.
In last 6 years EHO has been awarded 3 times for it’s exceptional work with Roma national community in Serbia. Today, EHO is positioned at the forefront of the civil society sector in Serbia and is being a model of the Churches response to alleviating poverty and social exclusion.
Robert Bu / Executive director / EHO / Novi Sad / Serbia
+ 381 21 466588