YOUR IDENTITY - A CHANCE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS
VRANCEA COUNTY COUNCIL

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Vrancea County is located in the Southeastern part of Romania and has a population of almost 400.000 inhabitants. The network of localities includes, next to the county’s residence town, the municipality of Focşani and the municipality of Adjud, the cities of Mărăşeşti, Panciu, Odobeşti and 68 communes (331 villages). In Vrancea County, according to the Population Census from 2002 and the situations of the County Department of Statistics Vrancea, from the total of 387.632 inhabitants, 6.813 have declared that they are Roma citizens, 1.884 of them living in the urban area and 4.929 in the rural area. This figure is not the exact one, as the Roma citizens either do not declare as belonging to this community, or aren't registered, have no identity documents or aren't included in the Census Office. From the situations of the County Public Office of Census, results that in 2006, at the local public Community desks of population census resulted a number of 170 Roma citizens in order to be legalized and in 2007, by sending the mobile team in 4 localities from the county, a number of 1221 ID documents were released. Also, in 2006 and 2007 were legalized 78 persons that didn’t have birth certificate, through actions of verifications and court trials regarding the late registering of birth. This means that, except the persons that aren’t in the statistics regarding the population, in Vrancea County exists a significant number of Roma citizens that aren't registered, that do not benefit of their rights and, as a consequence, they do not have access to education, medical care, labor market, social assistance. The lack of legal identity, with the effect of exclusion from any right, affects an important number of Roma citizens.If we look at a comparative analysis of the statistic data we see that, at the Population census from 2002, a number 535.140 from the persons interviewed have said that they are Roma citizens, while certain researches done on representative samples at national level estimate their number at 1.500.000. This means that through the numeric dimension, the Roma community is, next the Hungarian one, one of the most important minorities from Romania and as a difference of almost 1.000.000 persons is represented by Roma citizens that do not have ID documents, they do not have citizenship or rights associated to them and do not exist from an administrative point of view in relation to the national authorities. The Roma citizens that have been registered at their birth, but that do not have a birth certificate or ID card, are exposed at the risk of social exclusion because, although they are Romanian citizens, they cannot prove it. Consequences:  limiting the access to education  the difficult access to medical assistance of the members of Roma citizens community  the impossibility of the access on the labour market  the impossibility for the Roma children to get allocations, emergency help and social insurances. Consequences and risks for the society:  traffic of persons, illegal adoptions;  incomplete realization of political rights;  incomplete realization of social and economic rights.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The project ”Your identity – a chance for equal rights” has been launched on January 18th 2008, and it lasted until November the same year. The overall objective was the social integration of Roma citizens in seven localities from Vrancea County by addressing the problem of lack of identity and civil status and determining the involvement of local authorities in solving the problem of property. Target group: the Roma citizens with ages between 1-60 years from 7 localities of Vrancea County. Direct beneficiaries: the Roma citizens without ID and civil status documents. Indirect beneficiaries: the Roma communities from Mărăşeşti, Panciu, Adjud, Tâmboieşti, Răcoasa, Vulturu. The lack of the ID documents for the Roma citizens and their social exclusion resulted from this lack have represented problems of public interest that Vrancea County Council, the Association”Rom pentru Rom” and the Public Department for Census have solved through this project. The problems of the Roma citizens without property documents were specially emphasized, problems that can be solutioned through trials or decisions of the local county. All these actions and the involvement of all those responsible for this project have ensured the solutioning of the problems connected to the lack of identity, marital status and ownership of Roma settlements from Mărăşeşti, Panciu, Adjud, Tâmboieşti, Răcoasa, Vulturu and have facilitated their active participation in the economic, social, cultural and political life.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
This Project was an innovative and original one, from the fact that it has been the first intervention realized at a county level that reunited all the public institutions, the specialized services and the NGOs in order to solve a social problem that hasn’t been on the public agenda until then, consolidating the relations between the public and the private sector. Unlike the classical methods of formal legalization, the project was based on campaigns with mobile stations in Roma communities and the direct communication with target group members. The project ”Your identity – a chance for equal rights” has been declared a successful project and it has been presented as an example of good practice in the final brochure of the programme ”Accelerating the Implementation of the National Strategy for Improving the Roma Citizens Situation”, being financed through PHARE funds. Prizes obtained by the project ”Your identity - a chance for equal rights”: • ” European Social Innovation”, initiated by the European Commission with the support of Euclid Network • National Agency of Civil Servants, "Innovation and Quality in the Public Sector" • Assembly of European Regions (AER), "Communicating Europe in 2010" • Regional Exhibition ”Enhanced partnership in Black Sea - Danube Region” – Innovation Trophy for Social and Economic Innovation Pillar

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
A first stage in the project was the meeting with the representatives of the Roma community, that have been informed on the actions that are going to be organized, emphasizing the importance of these actions for improving the Roma’s situation and facilitating the active participation to the economic, social, cultural and political life. This meeting has had as a purpose, beside informing in what concerns the programs of activities, the stimulation of interest of the Roma communities’ representatives in what concerns the problem targeted and assuring the participation in the project activities. In this stage were obtained information about the persons from the targeted communities through this project, information concerning the Roma citizens that do not have ID papers. The second stage was represented by the development of the awareness raising actions on the entrance of legality, which were conducted in the localities Mărăşeşti, Adjud, Homocea, Tâmboieşti, Răcoasa, Vulturu, Sihlea, Măicăneşti. The criterion for choosing the target areas was mainly the number of people registered in Roma settlements.According to the situations from the Department of Statistics of Vrancea County, at the Census from 2002, from almost 12.000 inhabitants of Mărăşeşti 223 are Roma citizens, but this figure does not correspond to the reality because their number is over 3.500 persons (according to the data offered by Mărăşeşti City Council). The persons that are not included in the official statistics whether didn't declare that they are Roma citizens, or weren't legally registered and have no ID papers. The situation of Roma citizens is as serious as at the level of the community that they are coming from, the poverty is generalized, in the context in which in Mărăşeşti is registered the highest rate of unemployment from Vrancea County. The differences between the Roma citizens included in the statistics and the real situation (according to the data offered by the local authorities from the localities mentioned above) are noticed also in other localities of the project:Adjud (800 in comparison with 499), Panciu (700 in comparison with 55), Homocea (3250 in comparison with 0 persons declared at the Census from 2002), Tâmboieşti (1400 in comparison with 444), Răcoasa (550 in comparison with 59), Vulturu (432 in comparison with 211). In these localities the Roma citizens have a precarious material situation and this is due mainly to the fact that they do not have ID documents and they couldn't get employed legally, they have a low income and a high level of not participating in the labor market. The third stage of the project consisted in the legalizing of the Roma citizens by going with the mobile team of the Public Department for Census in the localities Mărăşeşti, Panciu, Adjud, Tâmboieşti, Răcoasa, Vulturu. The Roma citizens without ID papers have been photographed and all the necessary data were collected in order to elaborate the ID paper. The main activities included in the action plan were:  The partners’ meeting and the project team creation;  The promotion of the awareness campaign and legalization of the Roma citizens - seminar for project presentation; - meetings with the Roma representatives; - promotion in the mass-media; - promotion on the website of Vrancea County Council – www.cjvrancea.ro.  Acquisition of technical means and stationary;  Elaboration of informative materials;  Offering information service and legalization of Roma citizens;  Informing the public opinion and the institutions responsible about the problems of the Roma communities from the areas whose targets are in the project;  Monitoring the project;  Evaluating the project;  Disseminating the project’s results.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Vrancea County Council has assured the management of this project. The project has been implemented in partnership with the following institutions: The Public County Department for Persons Census Vrancea, The Association „Rom pentru Rom” Panciu and the local councils Adjud, Mărăşeşti , Panciu, Homocea, Răcoasa, Tâmboieşti and Vulturu. The project team was formed of:  Project Manager: Vrancea County Council;  Financial Person in charge: Vrancea County Council;  Person in charge with Roma citizens' communication: The Association „Rom pentru Rom” ;  Person in charge for releasing the ID cards and the marital status documents: The Public County Department for Persons Census Vrancea ;  One legal adviser.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The project management was provided by Vrancea County Council, through its specialized departments. The project implementation team included civil servants from the Department of Foreign and Home Affairs, with experience in managing projects with external funding. They coordinated the development of informational materials, organization of meetings with partners, information, evaluation, organization of events and permanently secured the advertising of the project. The Public County Department for Persons Census Vrancea was involved in the project and participated in all project activities, being involved both in outreach activities and in those of implementing the law. The communication with target group members has been difficult due to specific ethnic attitudes, prejudices, lack of openness to dialogue. From this point of view the involvement of the Association „Rom pentru Rom” was very important, as members of this association know the problems, the way of thinking and are respected for activities developed in support of Roma citizens. Local authorities were involved in the preparation phase of the project through the information provided, but also during their activities, taking into account the authority they have in the communities they represent (providing space for activities, facilitating communication with target group). The total amount of the project has been 26.153 Euro from EU contribution and 21.923 Euro from the Romanian Government.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Through this project 1.113 Roma citizens were legalized with ID and civil status documents. There were also initiated and finalized: 5 actions of late birth registration, 2 trials for name offering and 2 trials for transcription of the birth certificate emitted abroad. However the project was completed with: -16 information sessions referring to the implications of the lack of ID and marital status documents and the legalization procedure with these documents; - 10.000 leaflets and 2000 brochures issued and disseminated; - 2 sociological researches accomplished in order to identify the problems of the Roma communities and the level of understanding/awareness of the information offered; - 1 situation of the Roma people from the target locality, citizens without ID and marital status documents.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The monitoring of the activities was done to ensure that project objectives are met. The monitoring was carried out from the 18th of January till the 30th of October 2008 to check whether the project objectives were met. The number of the beneficiaries was followed and the media appearances were monitored. Also, to verify the legality of the actions made during the period 28th of March to 23rd of May 2008, and in July targeted monitoring visits were made to localities. The evaluation of the project implementation was accomplished through: - Highlighting the number of messages sent to beneficiaries (direct and indirect) and the media (the number of topics covered in seminars and the number of press releases); - Monitoring the messages that were taken from the media - the media magazine; - Highlighting the structure of the target audience (direct, indirect beneficiaries) that was exposed to activities information, awareness and implementing compliance; - Determining the number of those who perceived meaning in information and awareness activities (seminars attendance list) - Highlighting the legal adequacy of formal methods to the needs of the target group

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The persons who could not be put in legality due to various reasons, such as absence from home on the day of activities were considered and entered into a database to be contacted by The Public County Department for Persons Census Vrancea. People without birth certificates, documents of civil status and property have been included in this situation. The information was collected by volunteers of the Association „Rom pentru Rom” with the support of the representatives from the Roma community. A special situation was that of Roma citizens who didn't have a birth certificate, which puts them in the situation of being unable to take possession of an ID card. In this category were children, but also some adults, persons that didn't exist from an administrative point of view in the relation with the Romanian state and who could not benefit from the rights associated with citizenship. To remedy this situation, people without birth certificates were granted legal aid for the start of action on late registration of birth. After the judgment of the court, birth certificates were issued. In certain circumstances, a forensic expertise was conducted. In this process, support was requested from social workers who knew the problems that the communities in which they operate were facing.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The implementation of this project has ensured the solutioning of the problems connected to the lack of identity, marital status and ownership of Roma settlements from the municipality of Adjud, the cities Mărăşeşti and Panciu, and the communes Homocea, Răcoasa, Tâmboieşti, Vulturu, and facilitated their active participation in the economic, social, cultural and political life. However, through this project, the resolutions of ownership issues of the Roma’s settlements in the target areas were established by involving the municipalities in the information campaigns and in the process of becoming legal. Another important phase was to put on the public agenda a less discussed problem in the county of Vrancea, namely social exclusion of Roma citizens. This fact entailed the adoption of measures and interventions in order to improve the social and economic situation of the target group. Impact assessment consisted of:  establishing the number of people who changed their minds after receiving messages (by questionnaire assessment);  establishing the number of identity cards and birth certificates issued and the manner in which possession of these documents has improved the situation of the target group;  establishing the number of people who have decided to enter into legality and took possession of civil status (marriage certificate);  Establishing the number of actions initiated by local authorities to issue certificates of ownership for Roma citizens in the target areas. The project’s impact was measured through the following methods: 1. Questionnaires for evaluating the campaign, which have been distributed after finalizing the project. A project feedback has been also realized, being highlighted the way in which the proposed objectives and the estimated results were reached. 2. The analysis of the project development in the media, for a period of 10 months, by realizing the media dossier during the project’s implementation, in order to quantify the number of articles referring to the activity and the way in which the media perceived these actions. As the media is an important factor regarding the public opinion, a great importance was given to the image and the publicity created to the project in the media, the implementing team elaborated a media file referring to the project. 3. The analysis of the information obtained through monitoring, which has been obtained as it follows: - the number of participants in information and awareness activities; - the number of informative materials distributed; - number of people made legally by issuing identity cards; - number of Roma citizens who had acquired a birth certificate, after the court action brought by the Public Service for People Census; - number of statistics handed over to the local authorities by the NGOs representative; - Number of mass-media issues. At the end of the project a research report has been elaborated and the project results were made public during the project’s final seminar.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
This project established a solid partnership for solutioning the problems of Roma communities, partnership that worked also after the completion of project activities by creating a network of contacts, joint implementation and other activities. Vrancea County Council has provided to The Public County Department for Persons Census Vrancea the necessary funds for campaigns with the mobile station for the issuance of identity cards. Also, The Public County Department for Persons Census Vrancea, with the support of social workers and lawyers within municipalities, was continuing to support the Roma citizens to start the legal proceedings on the examination of the child. The expansion of the activities of legalization was performed in other localities and were also organised information campaigns covering all local communities in Vrancea County. Expanding activities in other areas of Vrancea County ensured the meeting of one of the objectives of Vrancea County Council, namely the adherence to the European values by respecting the human rights and protecting the minorities. Vrancea County Council has assured that the partnership established under the project continues to work also after the completion of the activities by creating a network of contacts in addressing the Roma communities. The project was extended according to the sustainability plan for a period of three years, also for others localities with Roma citizens from Vrancea county. This Project has been declared a successful one, being presented as a good practice example for other local authorities.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
In present times the lack of legal identity is a problem acknowledged by policy makers, who have developed local projects that are continuing what Vrancea County Council started during the PHARE Programme. Some other problems of the Roma communities, like quitting school, the lack of utilities (gas and water supply, electricity, sewage), poverty, a high level of unemployment, begin to find resolutions and the public institutions in our county are paying now attention to them. Roma people are a social class exposed to social exclusion due to the lack of documents proving their birth or marital status. Vrancea County Council was the first institution involved in solving the cases of late registration of birth (Roma citizens who didn't have birth certificates and who did not exist for the Romanian State from an administrative point of view). A person, regardless the group to which belongs, minority or majority, that hasn't been registered at birth do not exist from an administrative point of view, in relation with the Romanian authorities and as a consequence he cannot have official or authorized relations neither with public nor with private partners. More than that he cannot be considered citizen of Romania and so, he cannot benefit from the rights associated to the citizenship. The Roma citizens that have been registered at their birth, but that do not have a birth certificate or ID card are exposed at the risk of social exclusion because, although they are Romanian citizens, they cannot prove it. The lack of an ID document leads to the impossibility of interaction with the state authorities and the total exclusion from the rights derived from the statute of citizen: the social assistance, social insurances,the right to political participation, employment in a legal working place. Our project “Your identity - a chance for equal rights” addressed the need to release identity documents for Roma people in Vrancea County and solved many of the problems to which the Roma citizens were exposed to.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   VRANCEA COUNTY COUNCIL
Institution Type:   Other  
Contact Person:   MARIAN OPRISAN
Title:   PRESIDENT  
Telephone/ Fax:   0040.237.213.057, 0040.237.21.22.28
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   contact@cjvrancea.ro  
Address:   1, DIMITRIE CANTEMIR STREET
Postal Code:   620098
City:   FOCSANI
State/Province:   VRANCEA
Country:  

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