"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 . It is located in an industrial zone near textile, food and metal factories .
Despite the high number of population, the settlement remains under-developed. Substandard housing conditions, poor infrastructure, water, noise and air pollution and access to water are a daily struggle for Romani families living in that place . The city’s railway station is located in the Nord part of the neighbourhood; trains are passing in a less than 50 meters from Romani houses transporting industrial products, coal and goods. A thermal power station is located on 1,2 km from the South side of the settlement producing emissions. Textile and food factories located in the East and West side of the neighborhood additionally pollute the air.
Building construction in the settlement has never been regulated by the authorities and the infrastructure does not meet national standards . Narrow streets without asphalt, sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic signs or lights increase the risk of road accidents. The streets’ width is reduced to only two meters or less in the South part of the settlement preventing large vehicles such as fire brigade camions and ambulances to get into the Roma settlement (see pictures). Pregnant women, babies, elderly and persons with disabilities are the most vulnerable in case of emergency.
Also, the streets are not accessible for waste trucks leading to garbage accumulation in public space. Nothing prevents babies and children from direct contact with toxic plastic waste combined with sewage and spoiled food. Garbage left directly on the ground together with waste water plugs the outdated canalization pipes and create flooding (Kara Kolio, Burshen and Pirin streets-see pictures). Some dwellings are not connected to the canalization and evacuate waste, including defecation, in septic tanks located in their courtyards contaminating the soil.
The outdated pipes prevent proper water distribution, leaving the inhabitants with low water pressure or without ruining water, increasing the risk of epidemics. Hepatitis, scabies as well as the proliferation of lice, flea and rats have already been reported .
Substandard housing conditions raise the health hazards as some families, in many cases single mothers with 5-8 children, live in shacks or basic constructions with broken windows, which significantly decreases the energetic efficiency of their homes . Wood and coal are used massively for heating houses, rising indoor emissions . The poorest dwellings use plastic and textile found on an unregulated dump near the settlement for heating their homes, which aggravates respiratory ailments and provokes asphyxia. It is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, children and babies .
The presence of an unregulated dump located in an only few meters from Romani houses additionally aggravates the health risks. Domestic and water waste, building materials, plastics and medical waste pollute the air and soil. It contaminates domestic animals such as chicken, lambs, pigs, horses eating spoiled food from the dump. Women and children are exposed to intoxication and epidemics as the dump’s waste is their livelihood. Pregnant women or women with children and babies collect scrap, plastic, cardboard and other materials that can be recycled to earn money. Children and babies are fed/breastfeed on the dump without any hygiene conditions being respected. Toxic air due to burning electric cables on the dump for getting the scrap, endangers women’s and children's health . According to the Centre for mother’s and child’s health, children and mothers get intoxicated very often, suffer from hepatitis, scabies and other epidemics. To tackle these health issue the Centre for mother's and child's created by UNICEF initiated meetings with public authorities, involving Médecins du monde, Health mediators, Romani activists and families living in Nadejda. Despite the NGOs and media involvement the unregulated dump has not been removed from the Roma settlement and continues to endanger the health and the life of the inhabitants . In fact on 1st Oct.2019 an accident occurred taking the life of a Romani woman while passing through the dump. A truck charging refuse flipped on its side and struck the woman. She died crushed by the vehicle and the refuse that it transported .