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Bulgaria ranks third in Europe in biodiversity, with a number of rare endemic species. It is also the largest fertilizer producer in Southeast Europe with about 60 % of its annual production exported to neighbouring countries. The resort town of Velingrad has had a long-lasting problem with all of its domestic, animal and agricultural waste. Residents of Velingrad used to collect all this varied waste and dump it in one end of the town. Intervention was needed and the citizens of Velingrad took up a project to collect and recycle the waste. According to the European Union, a significant number of Roma people live in extreme marginalization in both rural and urban areas. Intereko-21 began a project which involved mostly the poor and unemployed people of Roma origin, retirees and students from university to try and equally integrate the Roma people back into society. The decision to hire ethnic minority citizens was unanimously approved by the project participants. Intereko-21 purchased bio-composters for the biomass composting process. Composting is practiced by individuals in their homes, farmers on their land, and industrially by cities and factories. The compost produced through the project was used for the production of environmentally clean food and plant products that improve the life and health of the population in the cities of Velingrad, Yablanitza, Petrich and others. The production of compost provides employment for poor men and women including the Roma ethnic minority people. There are many achievements of the project which include environmental remediation through better waste management, changed attitude and behaviour on waste disposal, improvement of soil fertility and the promotion of organic food products. The Velingrad family composting project has also managed to better integrate the Roma through social inclusion in the project. This project has been replicated in other municipalities – the town of Petrich, town of Jablanica, city of Beli Iskar, town of Preslav and other municipalities in the region. Another major impact from composting has been for the environment: the city of Velingrad has become much cleaner!

Federation INTERCO – 21
Strelbiste Living Complex Sofia 1408 Tvardishki Prohod Street Bl.91 Entr.B, Ap.69 Bulgaria
drmariazlateva@yahoo.com
359 2 8585162