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In Roma quarter Fakulteta waste collection denied. Separation wall proposed, Sofia, Bulgaria

70 years of denial of waste collection, potable water and sanitation in the Roma settlement Fakulteta, in Sofia. A segregation wall under consideration to "protect" railways from the accumulated waste.


Situated in the western edge of the city, Fakulteta has an estimated population of between 20 000 and 30 000, most of them Roma [16]. Since 1949 or for 70 years now, in Fakulteta neighbourhood in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, waste collection as well as access to water and sanitation has been denied to Roma residents by the local authorities [1]. All the basic infrastructure is provided in the surrounding areas but cut short are Roma residents [1]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:In Roma quarter Fakulteta waste collection denied. Separation wall proposed, Sofia, Bulgaria
State or province:Stolichna municipality
Location of conflict:Sofia city, Fakulteta neighbourhood
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Recycled Metals
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Mayor of Sofia promised to initiate the measures necessary to legalise Fakulteta. To date, however, this promise remains unfulfilled [2]. The people of Fakulteta have been waiting for action from Bulgarian authorities for more than seventy years. Four regulation plans have been worked out during this time but none of them provided adequate housing and infrastructure for the Roma of Fakulteta [1]. Instead a separation wall is proposed by the local government and the National Railway Infrastructure company to separate the accumulated waste and the Roma from the railways that crosses the settlement [14].

Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:25,000-30,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2004
Company names or state enterprises:Bulgaria's National Company "Railway Infrastructure" (NKZI) (NKZI) from Bulgaria - Supporting the idea of Apartheid Wall to "protect" trains from Roma and the waste accumulated in Fakulteta settlement
Relevant government actors:The mayor of Sofia city (current and past), municipal council
The National Railway Infrastructure Company (NKZI)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:UN observers on minorities and human rights OHCHR
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Fires, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Accidents, Deaths
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The proposals were first to legalise the Fakulteta neighbourhood and to provide waste collection, potable water, sanitation and electricity. Although the UN expert on minorities and human rights visited the settlement; the local government has not done anything to improve the situation of the Roma. Instead there is an idea under consideration to build a separation wall and to separate the waste in Fakulteta (and the Roma) from railways that cross through the settlement.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:For 70 years waste collection, water and sanitation denial to Roma in Fakulteta. Promises were made by local government to improve water and sanitation conditions of the Roma in the Fakulteta neighbourhood. To date, however, this promise remains unfulfilled. The idea and proposal by local government to build a separation wall is a racist and discriminatory act again the Roma in Fakulteta.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[15] Bulgarian property act
[click to view]

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

[1] The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice. 2018. 2nd edition.
[click to view]

[4] Social inequalities and innovative practices to address them:

Case studies of Fakulteta and Hristo Botev
[click to view]

[11] Access to electricity in Roma settlement in Bulgaria, Equal opportunities initiative association, report 2015
[click to view]

[16] Barbourkova, R. Environmental Justice and Urban Resilience in the Global South. 2017.Allen, Adriana, Griffin, Liza, Johnson, Cassidy (Eds.). Page: 102-108. Palgrave Macmillan US
[click to view]

[2] Fighting for Fakulteta: Advocating Roma Housing Righnts in Bulgaria
[click to view]

[5]Central_and_Eastern_Europe Environmental_racism
[click to view]

[7] Romani enfant dies in Bulgaria in fire after electricity cut in the settlement
[click to view]

[9] Roma from Fakulteta protest against electricity supplier, 9 February 2018
[click to view]

[10] Bulgarian court finds discrimination against Roma, 16 December 2004
[click to view]

[12] Bulgarian National TV, Romani protest stopped train circulation near Fakulteta, 29 July 2014
[click to view]

[13] Bulgarian National TV, Railway is blocked by garbage near Fakulteta, 27 Sept. 2018
[click to view]

[14] Bulgarian State Railways Mull Roma Ghetto Wall to Protect Trains
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[3] UN: Human rights expert calls on Bulgaria to defend Roma people (2011)
[click to view]

Roms, Turcs, Les nombreux visages de la Bulgarie, documentary released by Public Sénat, 2008 (available only in French)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek ICTA-UAB
Last update29/08/2019
Conflict ID:4152
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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