Roma in Central and Southeast Europe

Roma in the region are excluded from economic, social and political life. Compared to non Roma citizens, Roma are more likely to live in poverty, have a higher risk of unemployment, stay in school for fewer years, live without access to drinking water, sanitation and electricity, and live in substandard, overcrowded homes. Roma are more likely to suffer from chronic illness and have less access to health services - mostly related to the costs of health care. (See: Data on Roma)

If you are a Roma woman, you are among the most disadvantaged populations. Roma girls are twice as likely to get married and have children before their 20th birthday than non Roma girls, and Roma women are less likely to complete their education.

What we do

UNDP works with national partners to promote inclusion of Roma into economic, social, political and community life. This includes:

  • Supporting policies, projects and local governments to improve public services and quality of life for people in disadvantaged areas where Roma communities live, but not necessarily limited to Roma (a.k.a. area based development)
  • Collecting and analyzing socio economic data on Roma to help measure and address the magnitude of social exclusion
  • Assisting with monitoring and evaluation of national Roma strategies, in line with the Decade of Roma Inclusion, and the European Union’s accession policies and programmes
  • Carrying out quantitative and qualitative research to support development of minority policies, together with partners such as Open Society Foundation and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

Some results so far

Household surveys in Central and Southeast Europe in 2005, 2010 and 2011 helped to show the depth of poverty, unemployment, education levels, and quality of life for Roma in the region. This helps to inform policies and provided a monitoring and evaluation framework for the Decade of Roma Inclusion. 

Local governments and communities worked together in Cserehat, Hungary, one of the most deprived areas in Central Europe, and created 116 community projects and 60 self-help groups. Projects included water and nature protection, access to information, social services, small to medium enterprises and local economic development; and the partnership created 1,400 jobs.The Government used work in Cserehat as a model to establish a national programme to address the 33 most disadvantaged rural areas in Hungary.

Montenegro increased the number of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian families covered by the social welfare system by almost 100 percent in the municipalities of Bar, Berane and Niksic. Registering with Employment Bureaus helped to employ 107 (28 women) Roma through seasonal and long-term employment contracts, local public works, and business start ups. Roma also participated in vocational training, and obtained over 1,200 personal identification documents.

In Kosovo (hereafter referred to in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244), Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian citizens participated in decision making and implementation for 43 community projects in the municipalities of Ferizaj/Urosevac and Prizren. In total there were 1,820 beneficiaries, and one third were children under the age of 14. Jointly with the Ministries of Education and Communities and Returns, 214 high school students and 58 university students received scholarships.

Serbia’s national action plan for Roma inclusion helped to spur 35 municipal action plans, including 42 small scale projects in 31 municipalities targeting around 25,900 Roma in 129 communities in the country. Infrastructure and reconstruction projects expanded water and sewage systems, and built or repaired houses, community centres and children’s playgrounds. Employment projects provided vocational or self-employment courses, and education projects focused on preschool and primary school, and 100 Roma students were included in the school system. 

Slovakia developed its national Roma integration strategy (pdf) to 2020, a process involving representatives from state administration, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local partners. 

Albania is working with its Roma communities to access their rights, particularly access to public services - through civil registration, community policing, establishing and strengthening network of Roma mediators in areas of health, education, and child protection as well facilitating vocational training and employment. The project is implemented in four Albanian regions: Tirana, Elbasan, Fier and Durres.