Last update:

Health impact of substandard living conditions on Roma in a settlement separated by wall, Sliven, Bulgaria

Romani families in Sliven in a settlement separated from non-Roma living area suffer a high level of pollution. Substandard living conditions have negative impact on Roma health and life expectancy.


"Nadejda", also known as the Roma neighbourhood of Sliven, is a segregated settlement where 25 000-28 000 Roma live. It is separated from non-Roma neighbourhoods by a two-meter concrete wall surrounding the entire Nord and West part of the settlement [4]. It is located in an industrial zone near textile, food and metal factories [5]. 

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Health impact of substandard living conditions on Roma in a settlement separated by wall, Sliven, Bulgaria
Location of conflict:Sliven
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Thermal power plants
Manufacturing activities
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Land
Domestic municipal waste
Chemical products
Industrial waste
Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Relevant authorities such as the Regional health inspectorate do not collect disagregated data on ethnicity and do not have any statistics available for public consultation about the impact of the unregulated dump, poor infrastructure; waste management, sporadic refuse collection, air and noise pollution on Roma health in Nadejda neighbourhood.

Project area:20
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:20 000- 28 000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2000
Relevant government actors:The Ministry for health; the Ministry for regional development; Regional authorities (prefect); local authorities; Regional health inspectorate, Bulgarian food safety agency
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centre for mother and child health:
Médecins du monde:
Roma Health foundation
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Children and babies
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Fires, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Other Environmental impactsLack of green space and vegetation in the neighborhood
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Other Health impactsEpidemics; specific impact on pregnant women, intoxications of babies and children.Energy poverty. Lack of water.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in violence and crime
Other socio-economic impactsDiscrimination, social exclusion, ethnic segregation, ghettoïsation
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Raising awareness among the inhabitants about their rights to live in decent housing conditions and infrastructure
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Centre for mother and child health of Sliven suggested to local authorities to collect garbage with horse-drawn carriages, which are smaller than trucks and can enter into the settlement. The Centre suggested people living in the neighbourhood to be employed for refuse collection to facilitate the social inclusion through employment together with waste management. Also, it proposes other initiatives such as public cleaning of the streets, complete removal of the unregulated dump to a regular place where waste will be treated and recycled.
The local authorities accepted only the suggestions regarding garbage collection through horst-draw carriages and employed only 7 persons from the settlement for this activity. However the employees number is insuffisant to ensure the refuse collection of the entire settlement where live around 25 000 persons and this action does not have any significative impact.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Mobilization started in 2016 involving the Centre for Mother and Child health, Médecins du monde, 5 Roma health mediators, Roma activists and inhabitants of the settlement against the unregulated dump and waste management in the Roma neighbourhood. Since then these local and national organizations negotiate with local and state authorities for removing the dump from the Roma settlement and improve garbage collection. The Centre for mother and child health initiated meetings with local and regional authorities (mayor, prefect, health inspectorates, doctors, health mediators and activists addressing health issues such epidemics, the presence of parasites, uncontrolled animal husbandry, food and meat selling in the neighbourhood. In August 2017 the inhabitants organised a protest against the low water pressure/water cut leaving families with children and babies without access to water during August heat waves. The case has been reported by National media and was following negotiations with regional authorities. Today the entire settlement has running water, but inhabitants still have to deal with low water pressure, waste management and outdated sewage system.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

10. National standards for streets and roads construction
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

7. Pollutionwatch: soot study shows harm from open waste burning, The Guardian 18 July 2019
[click to view]

8. Dangerous health effects of home burning of plastics and waste, WECT Intrenational, 2005
[click to view]

9. The Health status of Roma in Bulgaria, Roma Health association 2009
[click to view]

2. Living conditions in the Roma gettho are a form of harassment against children, Sliven info 9 April 2019
[click to view]

3. Médecins du Monde
[click to view]

4. Bulgarian Roma: EU citizens living in getthos, Tourillon, 29 octobre 2018
[click to view]

6. La cité des Roms, Le Monde, 16 May 2009
[click to view]

5. Council of Europe, Romact program
[click to view]

1. Living on 40°C without access to water, BTV 10 August 2017
[click to view]

11. Romani woman has been struck by a vehicle on unregulated dump in Sliven, Novinite, 1 Oct.2019
[click to view]

12. A Romani woman died after being crushed by a truck. Roma from Sliven have previously alerted the authorities about the danger of the unregulated dump.
[click to view]

13. A truck flipped on its side, a woman is died, BTV, 1 Oct.2019
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

6. Gypsy stories of Sliven, documentary 2016
[click to view]

Other documents

Minutes meeting Centre for mother and child's health Document raising health and sanitarian issues affecting Romani communities in Nadejda. The Centre initiated several meetings with local and regional authorities, including Health inspectorate in regard to the identified problems in the Roma settlement.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Radost Zaharieva, Human rights researcher and consultant
Last update17/01/2020
Conflict ID:4377
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.