Despite various policy initiatives and targeted interventions in many European countries, Roma experience significantly worse health outcomes than that of the general population, independent of the country in which they live. Limited access to health care services does not fully explain this gap in the Roma health status. Their comparatively worse health status is also significantly determined by their living environment, social support, and the political and socioeconomic context under which they live. Across Europe, Roma are likely to receive fewer environmental and public health benefits while exposed to more of the harms. When it comes to closing the health gap between Roma and non-Roma, evidence suggests that social determinants of health—social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental factors—play a more significant role than their limited access to health care services.

The Open Society Public Health Program invites proposals addressing social exclusion through exposure to environmental harms in order to improve health outcomes for Roma. We are looking to support individuals and organizations that have evidence, ideas, and commitment to tackle the social determinants of Roma health across Eastern Europe through advocacy and social mobilization efforts, making the living environment, public infrastructure, and services more available, accessible, and affordable.

We encourage civil society organizations, activists, and experts working on environmental justice, housing, urbanism, social architecture, public infrastructure such as water, sanitation, sewage, waste, environmental protection, community empowerment, and public policy monitoring to develop proposals on improving the living environment of Roma neighborhoods with clearly identified health-related impact. We are looking to support proposals and collaborations across sectors designed to improve the health status of Roma in Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, and Slovakia. Selected applicants will be invited to develop their concept notes into full funding applications.

Eligibility Criteria

All proposals will be reviewed using the following criteria:

  • supports efforts to make Roma living environments healthier by tackling environmental and public health harms and risks, and challenging Roma exclusion in distribution of environmental and public health benefits;
  • embraces a comprehensive, integrated, and cross-sectoral approach focused on improving the living conditions and health situation of Roma;
  • builds upon existing evidence and commits to inclusive and consultative processes through community participation in all stages of the project;
  • integrates human rights, social justice, and gender equality principles;
  • implies policy change and seeks to advocate for new, effective, and sustainable political, legal, and policy solutions;
  • incorporates data and documentation on the collaboration including evaluations, surveys, reports, and other information on which to build case studies; and
  • the initiative can be led by housing rights, environmental justice, public policy, or public health sector advocates, with Roma civil society as partner.

The proposals should seek to address social determinants of health, including inadequate housing conditions, limited public infrastructure, proximity to environmentally hazardous areas and exposure to environmental risk, criminality and social exclusion, accountability, and public participation.

Please submit a concept note of up to five pages that covers:

  • the problem statement and theory of change, including the political, social, and policy context at national and local levels;
  • a brief statement of programmatic capability and past experience—describe the organizations and project staff’s suitability and capacity to deliver the project;
  • a preliminary project work plan, including key intervention activities and approaches to make Roma’s life environment healthier, tentative timeline, collaborating partners, and the target group served by the project;
  • an estimate itemized project budget (please see the budget form provided).

Should you have questions and seek clarification, please contact Marek Szilvasi at