The six financed projects comprised in the programme focus on the most vulnerable communities, living on the verge of poverty. They combine measures aimed at early childhood education and development, prevention of school dropout, support of social entrepreneurship, provision of medical and legal assistance to community members. Projects also support building of social housings, community centers and social services packages provided to vulnerable people.
The overall objective of this programme is to break the vicious circle of poverty and to reduce the economic disparities in Romania.
The conference held at Bucharest, corresponding to the Annual Meeting of the Programme, brought to the fore, through the voices of direct beneficiaries and project teams, the impact produced through the financed projects both at micro level (families, school) and macro level (community and region). The annual meeting event enjoyed the presence of HE Tove Bruvik Westberg, Norwegian Ambassador to Romania and Moldova, who is not only an Ambassador to her country, but also an ambassador of the “RO 25 – Poverty Alleviation” in Romania, Suzy Yoon, Senior Operation Officer at The World Bank, Europe and Central Asia and Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
The six projects financed in Romania are locally endorsed by global institutions and organizations, NGOs and national authorities such as: UNICEF Romania, Intercommunity Development Association Cluj Metropolitan Area, Roma Educational Fund Romania, The Salvation Army Romania, The Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities and the City of Oslo.
The annual meeting event started with a visit at several project sites that are benefiting from Norwegian funding support:
- The social store SALVATtex located in Bucharest on 26, Victoriei Ave. and the sorting line facility for second hand clothing located in Ploiesti, enabled by Salvation Army Romania. These two facilities are organized as a business and aim at training and developing the work skills of vulnerable individuals living in the deprived communities on the outskirts of Ploiesti city and who are also supported by the Salvation Army community centers. The revenues obtained from the SALVAtex social store by selling the second hand clothing and accessories, will return in the development of further social programmes (mobile medical services, afterschool, counseling). (http://armatasalvarii.ro/social/portfolio1/salvattex/)
- The kindergarten located in Cazanesti, Ialomita county, is one out of the 14 kindergartens included in the “Ready Set Go!” programme developed by the Roma Education Fund Romania in 11 urban and rural localities from 6 Romanian counties, stating the highest share of Roma population of preschool age. The programme aims at improving the early childhood education and development of Roma children aged 0-6, by improving the quality and inclusiveness preschool education. (http://readysetgo.ro/)
The other four projects financed through the Norway Grants are:
- The Intercommunity Development Association Cluj Metropolitan Area’ s Pata-Cluj project, aiming at social inclusion and housing construction for 300 vulnerable families living in the garbage dump of Pata Rat, on the outskirts of Cluj. The 18 hectares of land covered by the Pata Rat garbage dump, became home for over 300 poor, largely Roma, families from the central areas of Cluj-Napoca in 2010, when they were evicted from all over Cluj. The project aims at reintegrating the people from Pata Rat into the society and enhancing access to education, social welfare, health and housing. (http://www.patacluj.ro/welcome/)
- UNICEF developed together with the local authorities a pilot project in Bacau county – The minimum package of services they deliver to the poor in Bacau, has also been recently included in the Anti-Poverty Package of the Romanian Government led by Dacian Ciolo?. In Bacau, UNICEF, together with community professionals - social workers, community nurses, health mediators and schools- identify, assist and monitor the children at risk and through their integrated package of services aim at assisting over 54,000 children and theirfamilies.(http://unicef.ro/serviciicomunitarepentrucopii/)
- The Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities, through a network of local partners in over 3,000 localities across Romania, are mapping all Roma compact communities, their challenges, creating ground-breaking analysis on their needs. Roma communities where access to school is over 30 minutes walking distance, Roma communities with or without electricity, or exposed to known environmental risks, availability, or lack of health care mediators in Roma communities, Roma communities who have benefitted from donor funded projects, etc, - all this sort of information and more can now be provided by the Institute, whenever a public policy, programme, project targeting Roma communities is created. (http://www.ispmn.gov.ro/page/socioromap)
- City of Oslo, through a preparatory project of needs assessment, knowledge transfer, community based policy development, are currently working with the authorities in Timisoara and Craiova to develop a project perfectly tailored to the needs of the poor communities around these two cities. (https://www.facebook.com/romaniaoslo/)
Norway Grants together with the EEA Grants, represents Norway’s contributes to closing the social and economic gap in 16 EU member states: Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. The Norway Grants and the EEA Grants are linked to the EEA Agreement which came into force in 1994, giving Norway access to the internal market in EU.
Between 2009-2014, Norway contributed with 1.75 billion Euro grants made available for NGOs, research and academic institutes, public and private sectors in the 16 member states. The projects are to be implemented by 2016-2017. For Romania, this translates into 404.4 million Euro received under Norwegian Grants and SEE funds since 2007. The targeted sectors are environment and climate change, green innovation, research and education, social inclusion, genre equity, health, justice reforms, civil society and cultural heritage.
For further information, videos and presentations on RO 25 – Poverty Alleviation, please visit the official websites of the projects: