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Roma IDPs - Social and Economic Empowerment Initiative

Improvement of living conditions and wellbeing of Roma IDPs in Serbia through in-kind support, employment and self-employment

Photo of Danilo Rakic
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

The main specific problem to be addressed is high unemployment of Roma internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kosovo in Serbia that generates poverty and prevents steady economic stabilization and further development. Twenty years after displacement there are 68,514 IDPS (16,644 households) with displacement-related needs. Most of them are Serbian, but there are also 10 188 Roma in need (1,435 households) Displaced Roma from Kosovo are in the worst situation, living in precarious conditions, particularly exposed to open discrimination, since they are of darker complexion, often have Muslim names and speak broken Serbian language. Disproportionately high number of Roma IDPs live in slums and unhygienic settlements. For a very long time, due to political reason, the only long-term solution that Serbian authorities had for displaced persons was their return to Kosovo. In places of displacement in central Serbia there were almost no programs for their integration. In recent years, mostly in cooperation with international donor (and local) organizations, numerous projects have enabled social housing and other forms of housing for displaced persons: the purchase of rural households and accommodation in social housing units. The Project Team will closely follow up the closure of “Grmeč” settlement in the outskirt of the Serbian capital Belgrade and moving out of Roma IDPs to purchased rural households. Considering merely the provision of housing to IDP population is not sufficient in order to achieve sustainability and integration within the society, it is very important to provide economic sustainability measures in order IDP families to generate income. Past experience has shown that so as to achieve economic sustainability, the provided assistance must include a complete package of support Their employability will be increased through tailored vocational training, mentoring assistance in the process of employment, in-kind support and toolbox sets for self-employment.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The majority of IDPs in focus are moving form unhygienic settlement, former fabric barracks “Grmeč“ in Belgrade’s Municipality of Zemun. After receiving 9.300 EUR for purchasing rural households, about 40 families move to rural area in Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, near the towns of Ruma, Odzaci or Zrenjanain, in radius of 100 km from Belgrade. Hoverer due to the lack of job, they are coming back to Belgrade, collecting garbage for recycling industry as form of their surviving strategy.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Purpose of the action directly enables beneficiaries to become financially self-supporting, while also enabling them to become active members of their own and of wider community. Due to their exile or displacement, Roma IDPs find it hard to get work and are forced to accept worst jobs. All actions aim at their active social inclusion. Specifically, proposed action is focused on investment in their personal development and ability to lead meaningful life, but also in their social empowerment.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Due to their poverty or the lack of basic knowledge and continuing education, or as a result of discrimination, displaced Roma are far from employment opportunities, income generation, as well as the inclusion and participation in social networks and community activities. On a personal level this leads to the sense of lacking the purpose and motivation, as well as to the sense of exclusion. The general poverty and gloomy prospects for future development will continue to be a powerful source of social tensions. The creation of job opportunities has clearly contributed not only to improving the living conditions of vulnerable individuals, their families but also to fostering socio-economic development of the geographical areas concerned, and improving relationships within the community. Acquiring skills will allow displaced Roma to improve their self-awareness and self-esteem, as well to feel joy through personal development, pride in accomplishment, and a sense of inclusion and purpose.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Roma IDPs will be successfully integrated into society and give a contribution to the development of the local community; thus decrease racial and cultural prejudices towards them. Acquiring professional skills in the focus of the project will enable them to move away from the grey economy and underpaid jobs. The project is devised taken into account all the explicitly proclaimed needs of the Roma communities. All activities will be voluntary, and two-way. Self-disclose needs and ambitions of the beneficiaries will be most seriously taken into account resulting in flexible activities. Finally, the project activities will empower beneficiaries to take control and responsibility for their own lives and the wellbeing of the entire community. The positive change is expected at a very early stage as contacts with people from the wider community - teachers, employers, members of other ethnic and social groups will help them to better integrate.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Whatever the cause the displacement is always difficult, always brutish but all too rarely is it short. Some people in Serbia live in difficult situation of internally displacement for twenty years since they left Kosovo in 1999. Since they have not crossed an international border they are lacking a binding international system that would offer them protection. Responsibility for the position of displaced persons lies above all in their country of origin, which is obliged to ensure their full equality with other citizens. In practice, displaced persons are exposed to many problems in realization of basic civil, economic and social rights. Without special measures of protection, there is inability to realize human rights and difficulties in accessing public services. Through this project we will promote the principle of affirmative action in employment of particularly vulnerable groups, stressing that affirmative measures do not contravene the equal treatment and non-discrimination.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

There is an expressed concern that if a large number of IDPs were to be given support suddenly, without a corresponding increase in service coverage to local residents, tensions between the two groups would likely increase. The source of these tensions may be found in the fact that assistance delivered to IDPs is perceived by local residents as unjustified. Namely, their living conditions could be better than those of local residents. An additional aspect which will be considered by ADRA during the implementation of the action is the fact that the overall economic situation within the selected target municipalities is such that even the domestic population is living in difficult conditions. In light of this, ADRA will include the vulnerable domicile population as project beneficiaries up to 20% of the total number of beneficiaries in order not to create tensions between the domicile population and the IDP population since in many cases they feel neglected by the society in general.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Lasting solutions to target group’s problems can only arise from the strengths of the IDP community and culture of individuals and families concerned. This action aims at increasing social capital of these communities in this specific sense. Each of the activity is designed so that the empowerment (professional and economical) of individuals concerned in chosen areas brings about positive domino effect for the community in general. Positive effects refer to increased interest in acquiring professional skills and active seeking job opportunities once it becomes obvious that new skills has paid off for these individuals (got employed or self-employed). It should be noted that the issue of Roma IDPs could not be separated from the general issue of Roma inclusion in the Serbian society. It is, therefore, necessary to design mechanisms which should provide long term solution for impoverish Roma - active involvement in community life, seeking cooperation with others of different ethnicity.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

ADRA’s current partner working with IDPs in settlement “Grmeč” is “BrankoPešić” School for Primary and Adult Education” toward most of its residents are gravitating. In the process of their moving to rural households in different parts of Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, ADRA will closely co-ordinated its activities with municipal authorities, National Employment Service, and national and international non-governmental partners requiring their active participation in the identification of needs, designing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of this projects. By using this participatory approach, ADRA will continue providing a solid opportunity for municipal institutions to increase their capacities and ensure their future presence and involvement in the economic development process. Municipal institutions have to take an active role in supporting economic development and take over the responsibility over the local ownership of current and future project outcomes.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Early Adoption: We have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have proof of user uptake (i.e. 16% to 49% of the target population or 1,000 to 50,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Adventist Development and Relief Agency - ADRA Serbia

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is a global humanitarian organization with a mission to work with people in poverty and distress to create just and positive change. ADRA Serbia belongs to the worldwide ADRA network, comprised of over 130 country and regional offices. ADRA’s five core sectors include Food Security; Health; Economic Growth; Education; and Emergency Management. ADRA Serbia has developed its expertise in some of these sectors and in various respective subsectors, particularly in Education (Children); Economic Opportunity, WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene), and Emergency Management. The subsectors of Women, Girls and Gender, and of Mental Health are mainstreamed in all programs. Also, programmatically, regardless of the sector, ADRA utilizes Comprehensive Support, in two senses. First, partnering will public, private and civil sector. Second, providing from relief, to developmental support, including advocacy, building on human-rights based approach.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Belgrade, Serbia


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Photo of Marie-Noëlle. RUBANGIZA

Bonjour, votre idée va de paire avec la nôtre. Je ne peux que vous souhaiter une bonne continuité.

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