Integrated Community Development Program
Social Effect Assessment
Mălina Voicu and Claudiu D. Tufis
The team that prepared this report consisted of:
Table of Contents
Program Description 1
Program Goals 2
Program Implementation 3
Evaluation Methodology 4
Report Structure 5
Brief Description of the Project 7
Project Goals 7
Involved Actors 7
Project Implementation 9
Information Session Component 9
Micro-Project Component 10
Difficulties in implementation 13
Project Impact 14
Perception of the actors involved in the project 14
Evaluator’s Perception 15
Brief Description of the Project 20
Project Goals 20
Involved Actors 21
Project implementation 23
Information Session Component 23
Micro-project component 24
Difficulties in implementation 27
Project Impact 29
Perception of the Actors Involved in the Project 29
Evaluator’s Perception 30
Brief Description of the Project 36
Project goals 36
Involved actors 37
Project implementation 39
Step 1. Identifying the leaders that would be part of the initiative group 39
Step 2. Identifying the Needs. Creating a Local Strategy 40
Step 3. Propositions for Solutions and Options to Invest the Funds 41
Step 4. Courses as Part of the Project 41
Step 5. Meetings with the Community 42
Step 6. The Actual Construction of the Road 42
Difficulties in implementation 44
Project impact 45
Brief Description of the Project 53
Project goals 54
Involved actors 55
Project implementation 57
Information session component 57
Micro-project component 58
Difficulties in implementation 61
Project impact 62
Perception of the actors involved in the project 62
Evaluator’s Perception 64
Brief Description of the Project 71
Involved actors 72
Project implementation 74
Information session component 74
Micro-project component 75
Difficulties in implementation 77
Project impact 77
Brief Description of the Project 84
Project goals 84
Involved actors 85
Project implementation 90
Information session component 90
Micro-project component 93
Difficulties in implementation 100
Project impact 101
Perception of the actors involved in the project 101
Evaluator’s Perception 103
The Integrated Community Development Program was launched by the Soros Foundation Romania at the end of 2005, having as its main purpose the creation of models, development ways, in settlements with a significant percentage of Roma population. This program included six such communities: four rural ones - Baltesti (Prahova), Lehliu-Sat (Calarasi), Patrauti (Suceava) and Veresti (Suceava) – and two urban ones - Geoagiu (Hunedoara) and Mimiu (a neighborhood in Ploiesti, Prahova).
The existence in the community of a minority group, often marginalized (economically, socially and politically), with low resources (educational, material, know-how, etc.), usually generates a series of specific problems, and some of the most important are: development deficiencies in the settlement (in most cases areas occupied by Roma are less developed than the areas occupied by Romanians), low participation (intentional or imposed) of Roma in the settlement administration, creation of a distrust climate between minority and majority (reducing the chances of cooperation between groups to solve common problems), etc. Starting from these observations, a second goal of the program was to increase the settlement’s social capital, by encouraging a stronger involvement of the Roma in defining and solving the problems of the community and by increasing the interaction between the Roma and the Romanian community.
The program took place over two major components: a component focusing on social capital development and one of small grants and local actions.
In the social capital development component, the program unfolded in two directions. The first one focused on developing associative structures in the settlement. This was done to try and increase the level of participation of the Roma community members locally and to increase interactions between Roma and Romanians within an organized framework, through actions that are beneficial for the settlement as a whole.
The second direction had the main goal creating cooperation relations between Roma communities on the one hand and local and regional authorities on the other hand, relations through which authorities would see the Roma as partners and Roma would make the authorities aware of their specific problems.
The component involving small grants and local actions was designed as the applied part of the previous component, by which the created associative structure would obtain not only the experience of cooperation, but also the experience of an immediate success that would increase trust in their own ability to address and solve the problems that the community is facing.
As a first step in the program implementation, each community was assisted by a community facilitator, responsible for initiating and maintaining contacts with the members of the Roma community, identifying current and possible leaders of the Roma communities, organizing local action groups, identifying the needs of the community and the resources available to it, etc. Facilitators proved to be, with only minor exceptions, an important resource for the good implementation of the program.
It must be mentioned that in many cases the experiences of Roma community before the program started led to an attitude of mistrust towards any person from outside the community who came to the community claiming they wanted to implement a project. However, facilitators have managed to overcome the initial trust barrier of the Roma communities, proving to them that they are interested in solving the problems of the community, and this made their task considerably easier.
The second step consisted in organizing local action groups. In a first stage, the members of these groups participated in a series of training sessions organized in the settlement and outside it. By means of these training sessions, the members of the local action groups were able to obtain knowledge and skill needed to implement a project and meet with members of similar groups from other settlements, and with this occasion they were able to exchange information about their own activities and problems.
Local action groups were also responsible for identifying the main problems that the Roma community is facing and choosing the most important problem that could be solved in the small grant and local action component. Group makeup (both Roma and Romanians, both simple citizens and representatives of local institutions and authorities) had in itself a beneficial effect, by formalizing the bonds between different groups of the community and exposure to different points of view and argumentations. It is noteworthy that although participation in local action groups decreased over time, in all the six communities they were based on a core of active members throughout the project implementation.
Local action groups had an extremely important role in developing the local strategies for the Roma, documents detailing the community’s vision about the goals and means for the development of the community and were also disseminated to the National Agency for the Roma. Currently, this activity is being followed up with the development of integrated local strategies for the entire community.
Members of local action groups were also involved in preparing the financing application for the small grants component (building water wells in Patrauţi and Veresti, building the water supply system in Mimiu, extending the electricity system in Geoagiu and repairing the access road to the community in Baltesti and Lehliu-Sat), submitting the projects and implementing them after securing the financing.
The experiences obtained by the members of the local action groups within the Integrated Community Development Program proved to be beneficial for them, which is also shown by their intentions (already implemented in some cases) to develop projects in order to obtain financing for solving other problems of the community.
It is also noteworthy that in most cases local action groups were supported by the local authorities. For urban communities, support was obtain (in different forms) even from private companies (see, for instance, Apa Nova in Mimiu or Electrica Banat in Geoagiu), while in rural communities the school and the church were the institutions that became involved (to a lesser or greater extent) in the project implementation.
The results of the Integrated Community Development Program (ICDP) were analyzed in all the six communities involved in this program. Given the focus of the program on developing social capital and creating development models that can be used by the communities after the program completion, we used a qualitative approach for the evaluation of ICDP, using a semi-structured interview as an information-gathering tool. In these interviews we tried to find out how the main actors perceived the activities of the program.
In each of the six communities we interviewed a town hall representative (mayor, vice-mayor or secretary), the local facilitator, two members of the local initiative group, the advisor for the Roma and two persons of the community. By this approach, we were able to obtain information both from the actors involved in the program, providing an "inside" view, and from the beneficiaries of the program, who told us what things looked like from the “outside”.
Interview guides were different according to the interviewed person, but they started from a common structure, by which we sought to obtain information about: the degree of knowledge about the project, the activities that took place in the project, the participation of the respondent in the project, evaluation of other involved actors, evaluation of cooperation between the involved actors, perceptions about how the project unfolded, perceptions about the project impact and future plans.
The report continues with program evaluations in the six participating communities. The six chapter have a similar structure, presenting: the history and particulars of the program in the analyzed community, the project impact and a series of recommendations of the evaluator on solving the problems encountered during the program, how to solve other community needs and maximize the effects of the project. The last chapter presents conclusions and general recommendations, based on the information presented in the community chapters.
Brief Description of the Project
The project started in May 2006, and the community facilitator found out about this position from the County Office for the Roma (COR). In Prahova county, two positions of community facilitator in two Roma communities, Baltesti and Mimiu, were subject to competitive examination and posted on the internet. Initially, the community facilitator participated in a training session in Bucharest that lasted a week, and in which the purpose, goals and activities of the project were presented. In this training they also receive a material with information about the communities in which the project will be implemented, so that important local actors are familiarized with the community problems. This training session also contained methods and techniques for community facilitation.
For the local authorities, the project started with a training session in Predeal in November 2005 (the data declared by the public administration are not consistent with those of the facilitator) in which they were taught how to write a financing project and which the legal steps that must be followed to obtain financing are.
The main goals of the project were:
ð Developing local initiative groups that would become involved in solving community problems, in order to assist the local public administration
ð Supporting the efforts of the local public administration and civil society to include in the agenda of the county public administration the plans targeting vulnerable groups in the community
ð Facilitating the liaison between local initiative groups/local public administration/county public administration and the national institutions/authorities interested in the issue of disadvantaged persons
ð Developing public policies based on the successful experiences in the field
Facilitator. The facilitator was involved in the project for nine months, of which six months full time, and three months part time. The facilitator’s role in the bear tamer Roma community was to identify the leaders that could represent the community and mobilize the community to create an initiative group. In the relation with the local public administration, the facilitator’s role was to make the representatives of the local public administration aware of the project’s importance, of the need to integrate the Roma in the community and the support that they can offer.
In the first stage of the project, the facilitator worked individually, going door to door and talking to the Roma and becoming familiarized with their problems and relating with them so that they start to trust the project.
The large number of meetings that the facilitator had with the members of the bear tamer Roma community, with representatives of the public administration and the other Romanian informal leaders is an indicator of the activism degree. As for effectiveness, we could say that the facilitator was successful in that he created the initiative group and managed to mobilize the Roma in the community to participate in the organized meetings, although the number of participants decreased with time.
Community. The bear tamer Roma community was involved in the project implementation, and some of its members took part in the initiative group meetings. Although in the beginning there were more members participating in these meetings, with time only three or four persons remained, who would attend in rotation. The low participation of bear tamers is explained by the facilitator as due to their “limited comprehension” that made them find excuses to avoid participating in the initiative group meetings, especially when the project was written. We can't say that the bear tamers understood what happened in these meetings, as they don't even remember them, but they were a part in identifying the problems of the community and establishing their importance. Finally, they provided the workforce for implementing the project, for which they received a small grant. We can talk about a certain passivity of the bear tamer community with respect to involvement in solving the problems of the community.
The informal leaders of the Romanians actively took part in the meetings of the initiative group and in writing the project. Romanian leaders living in the Ursarie neighborhood were involved more actively in the implementation of the project because, as beneficiaries, they were interested in solving the problems.