CESPYD Joins Forces With NGOs to Serve Roma Communities in Seville During COVID

Photo of the advocacy group

Organizations engage in awareness raising, advocacy and community storytelling

By Belen Soto Ponce


During the time of crisis brought about as a result of the coronavirus, Romomatter project partners have been active in responding to the needs of Roma communities in project countries. 

In Spain the project’s activities have been impacted, and partners have reoriented their work to respond to Roma needs. In Seville the Center for the Study of Health, Power and Diversity (CESPYD) – a Romomatter partner – has joined forces with Roma women, community organization leaders and researchers and journalists who are concerned about the consequences of the coronavirus for those who live in unjust and substandard living conditions.

Over the course of the confinement period during recent months, CESPYD and its collaborators developed a working model that follows the recommendations of the European Public Health Association and the European Public Health Alliance, which called for measures to protect the most vulnerable populations from the consequences of the pandemic. The model aims to mitigate the impact of the crisis and prevent the growth of public health inequalities among vulnerable populations such as the Roma community. 

Roma Communities in Seville are Disproportionately Vulnerable to the Adverse Impact of COVID

The Roma population is an ethnic minority that is vulnerable to the health of the crisis. The impact of the coronavirus on the Roma population has potentially been worsened due to the systematic violation of Roma rights in the areas of education, health, employment and housing. The fundamental objective of the work of CESPYD during this crisis has been to advocate for Roma rights as Spanish and European citizens. This includes their right to access living conditions that are essential to their ability to carry out quarantine with dignity, safety and health.

To this end, CESPYD carried out various actions and initiatives demanding action from Seville’s mayor in terms of protecting the people living in Seville’s shanty towns. The effort involved 33 organizations, four research groups and the signature of three individuals. 

Raising Awareness is Coupled With Media Work and Community Storytelling

The organization initiated a major media campaign that resulted in a number of news outlets publicizing information about the challenges faced by the most vulnerable populations during the coronavirus crisis. The media campaign was followed by fundraising efforts and a crowdfunding campaign to support Roma women in their response to COVID-19. CESPYD also engaged in other efforts to support organizations working to raise awareness, via video and other multimedia platforms, about the situation of Roma women during the pandemic. 

In addition, CESPYD made a formal joint statement with the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and collected the stories and experiences of women from Seville’s Roma neighborhoods via WhatsApp and neighbor interviews. The stories were transcribed and will be used to carry out a narrative analysis by researchers at the University of Seville, with the aim of identifying and responding to Roma needs.

An extended version of this article is available at the CESPYD website. In addition, you can collaborate with CESPYD or receive more information about the COVID-related work of Romomatter project partners via the organization’s email.