Last update:

Roma of Stolipinovo: water and waste collection denial in the European Cultural Capital 2019, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Inclusion of Roma and their culture in "Plovdiv: European Cultural Capital 2019" was rejected by local politicians, and project proposals rehabilitating water and waste conditions were stopped.


Stolipinovo is a quarter of the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv predominantly inhabited by Roma. The surrounding industrial zone keep it at a distance from the rest of Plovdiv [1] [6]. It is the largest Roma settlment in Europe, with 60 000 Roma located on the outskirts of the city, in its northeastern part on the right bank of the Maritsa river [1] [2] [8 documentary].

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Roma of Stolipinovo: water and waste collection denial in the European Cultural Capital 2019, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
State or province:Plovdiv
Location of conflict:Plovdiv
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Urban development conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The city council of Plovdiv has received 35 million Euros as a cultural Capital of Europe 2019 [4] and has committed to elevate the Roma neighbourhood - Stolipinovo. However, the measures have not been taken so far [4] [15] [16]. In fact, since the collapse of communism in 1989, very little has been done to add infrastructure to Stolipinovo which has led to high numbers of informal housing [16]. The lack of attention devoted to this neighbourhood until today (2019), and the criticism that the authorities have tried to hide the Roma off Stolipinovo from visitors, has been one of the main issues of the organization of the Cultural Capital 2019 [17].

Project area:50, 000
Level of Investment:35,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:50,000 - 60,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2019
Relevant government actors:The mayor of Plovidv and its administration; Ministry of Health
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Building Together – Learning from Stolipinovo' is a project based on the concept by:
-Martin Kaltwasser and Maik Ronz (Germany),
- implemented by Goethe-Institut Bulgaria,
- Children´s Architecture Workshop (Bulgaria),
- Discovered Spaces (Bulgaria),
-Atelier 3 (Bulgaria)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Air pollution, Noise pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Fires
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases, Malnutrition
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases, Accidents, Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Violations of human rights, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Development of alternatives:One of the alternative proposed was the inclusion of Roma of Stolipinovo in workshops involving arts, rehabilitation of doors, windows and benches -- as a part of the European Cultural Capital 2019 program. Officially however, the Roma of Stolipinovo were not welcomed as a part of the city's divers cultural heritage.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The exclusion of Roma of Stolipiivo from the European Cultural Capital (ECC) 2019 is another kind of environmental racism the Roma community undergoes. Althought Roma have been included in workshops as a part of the ECC 2019 program, challenges remain: canalisation is only partly built, which worsens the quality of the drinking water and increases the risk of infections. If communities have not drinking water and/or sewage infrastructure this means that environmental racism of Roma still remains. Other non-Roma neighbourhoods in Plovdiv have all the necessary condition for a decent living (water, sewage, electricity, housing, proper waste management, sanitation etc).
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[6] Nikola Venkov, Genika Baycheva, Rositsa Kratunkova, Dimitar Panchev (2016). An ethnographic study of the communities in the neighbourhood of Stolipinovo
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] The Largest Gypsy Ghetto in Europe – Stolipinovo, Bulgaria (2016)
[click to view]

[2] European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity: Roma in Plovdiv
[click to view]

[3] Huge Roma Protest Looms for Bulgaria's Plovdiv
[click to view]

[4] Building Togerher Learning from Stolipinovo Project (2019)
[click to view]

[5] The largest Roma ghetto in Europe, Roma Times, 13 March 2019
[click to view]

[7] Plovdiv: European Capital of Culture 2019 (2019)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[8] The getho in Stolipinovo, documentary, Studio West. Independent film, 2016
[click to view]

[9] Kayla Kurin, The European Capitals of Culture with the Largest Ghetto in Europe. Blog Tourism Concern.
[click to view]

Other documents

Main street of Stoliponovo quarter and sewage issues Source:
[click to view]

Stolipinovo, a boy burning plastic to warm up. Source:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek ICTA-UAB
Last update15/10/2019
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.