The existing strategy frameworks and public policy documents on social inclusion lack practical guidelines or mechanisms for implementation. The importance of the integrated participatory planning component is not recognized yet, but it is a premise of a truly inclusive and sustainable initiative. The standard interventions which address the improvement of the housing and living conditions, or education and employment of the disadvantaged Roma alone, are perceived by far as insufficient by the Roma themselves, and most often breed antagonisms and discrimination coming from the majority communities. Thus, an integrated approach is the second key element for improving the situation of vulnerable groups.
The needs addressed by the project converge with those expressed by the inhabitants of the settlements from the area expressed during several discussions and forums organized by the community facilitators within the UNDP technical assistance project (Preparatory Phase of a Model Project. Making the most of EU Fund for Sustainable Housing and Inclusion of disadvantaged Roma (explicitly but not exclusively targeted) in Cluj Metropolitan Area, in partnership with the Cluj-Napoca Municipality and the North-West Regional Development Agency, with the financing of the Open Society Foundations, Making Most of EU Funds for the Roma, http://www.undp.ro/projects.php?project_id=68), implemented between July 2012 – February 2013:
- participation in the mainstream society
- access to education and vocational qualification
- access to childcare services
- formal employment
- access to health care services
- access to safe, violence-free living environment
- desegregation and the improvement of the housing situation.
This is where the innovative approach of the project comes from: to address the complexity of the phenomena of the social exclusion of the Roma through integrating the 10 project threads. Our aim is to open a space of reciprocity for the local institutions, the marginalized community, and the majority of the population. This ‘space’ would make real cooperation for social inclusion possible. Therefore, in our project the focus is equally divided between the institutional coaching and community coaching which are running in parallel, matching the Top-down and Bottom-up approach in local development.
The project proposes to lead an integrated local development process, mainly through ensuring the social and human development interventions necessary to support the sustainability and efficiency of the infrastructural developments for social housing initiated by the Municipality of Cluj-Napoca.