The settlement of Trnavska Reka in Raška with about 100 families, has not had a sewerage network for more than three decades. Through the EU PRO development programme financed by the European Union and in cooperation with the local self-government, funds have been provided for the construction of the communal infrastructure, which has enabled the inhabitants of this settlement better and healthier living conditions.
Biljana Jovanović, a young woman age 29, has lived all her life in the Roma settlement Trnavska Reka together with her parents and brother. They had never adequate hygiene conditions because they lacked a sewage system. “Our living conditions were really inhuman. Wastewater and faeces flowed down the Raška-Golija road. In plain sight. Both the children and we, adults, were crossing the road, fearing we would catch a disease,” Biljana began her story, adding: “I remember the outhouses we had when I was still a kid. Then each family dug its own cesspool. All of this was quite unhygienic and rendered normal life difficult. A years-long problem has really been addressed by the sewage network.”
The Raška Municipality has been cooperating with the European Union through various programmes for years now. The Municipality had tried to address the problem in this settlement where also 30 Roma families live, by itself for almost 15 years, but it always lacked funds to implement the entire project. “Thanks to the EU’s donation via the EU PRO Programme, 1.1 km of the sewage network has been constructed. The project also envisages returning the road to the previous state. The part of the road under which the sewage network passes and the road through the settlement have been paved,” says Raška Assistant Mayor Danica Pavlović. All Roma families connected to the sewage network free of charge. “The conditions for the normal functioning of all people in Trnavska reka have definitely improved in terms of quality of life. The situation was horrible. Not only was the health of Roma families that did not have a sewage system at risk; so was the health of other people living in the settlement, because the sewage flowed from that part of the hill into their yards. Lack of a sewage system was a grave problem for everyone living in that settlement in all respects,” Danica Pavlović concludes.
The life of the Roma community in the Trnavska reka settlement has become much easier since the sewage system was built. Hygiene conditions are now excellent and all families in this part of the Raška Municipality really feel the difference. “When the construction of the sewage system began, none of us believed it would actually be completed. We had expected it would all take much longer. But they really finished everything according to schedule and we can really feel the difference. The settlement is nicer, much cleaner than it used to be. The pungent odours are gone and so are the mosquitoes; there used to be so many of them in the summer we wouldn’t dare venture into our yards. Our life has finally taken a turn for the better,” Biljana enthusiastically ends her story.
The construction of the sewage network in the Roma settlement Trnavska Reka is one of the 37 local infrastructural projects the EU in cooperation with the Ministry for European Integration supported with over 4.5 million Euros through the EU PRO Programme and. These projects aim to improve the quality of people’s lives by improving the conditions in sports and cultural institutions, schools and kindergartens, and health and welfare institutions; some of them will considerably improve the communal infrastructure.
The activities of EU PRO, a Programme contributing to the more balanced socio-economic development of Serbia, are supported by the European Union with over €25 million. The Programme aims to contribute to increasing the competitiveness of micro and small enterprises, improving the business environment and strengthening social cohesion in 99 local self-government units, in two regions: the Region of Šumadija and Western Serbia and the Region of Southern and Eastern Serbia. The activities in the field are implemented by UNOPS.