After Hungary’s accession to the European Union in 2002, LEADER became a key model for rural development, thus providing the tools to local action groups (LAGs) to define the targets for local development (See alo Csurgó and Kovách in Chapter 4 of this volume). FA LEADER, founded in 2008, is based on a consortium of 44 resource-poor, small to larger size municipalities in the areas surrounding an industrial city in northeast Hungary. The strategy of the FA LEADER is to strengthen the position of municipalities and the citizens by increasing their energy self-sufficiency and decreasing their dependency on large-scale suppliers of energy in monopoly positions through the utilisation of renewable energy sources. Further, the FA LEADER’s energy villages are to utilise ‘clean’, renewable energy sources, including agricultural waste, warm sources, wind, kitchen waste, manure, water streams and thermo energy from mines for the production of energy and heat. These energy sources are not being utilised at the moment and getting rid of the waste is an expense for the communities. Thirdly, the project aims to develop the communities through the creation of new workplaces for inhabitants with low levels of education and those who are qualified but currently unemployed. Fourthly, FA LEADER aims to increase the quality of life of the inhabitants through cleaning the communities of garbage and improving slum areas where inhabitants had no resources or a previous willingness to engage in such activities. This would also improve the possibilities for developing village tourism.
Romafa is a specific sub-project of FA LEADER targeting marginalised Roma enclaves aiming at ‘promoting the energy production of small communities for decreasing their dependency on social benefits and creating a self-sufficient source of income’ by the joint utilisation of renewable energy sources, the development of the traditional, hierarchical system of representation, the support of Romani traditions, religion, morality, culture, arts, education and the support of self-sufficient production among Romani households.
Three concrete goals were identified targeting Romani communities through the development of 15 municipal and small regional ecological waste collection and processing ‘eco-units’ for concrete waste according to EU standards:
1. Biogas generators could be operated by deliveries of biomass gathered by resource-poor Romani (and non-Romani), who could either be compensated with cash payments or energy coupons. The compensation model would increase the self-interest, self-respect and autonomous agency of those participating to increase the maximisation of their inputs. Meanwhile, they could promote their respectability as citizens.
2. Another plan would initiate the creation of a waste-management system. In this plan, low educated, unemployed Romani (and non-Romani) could find employment by selecting waste under controlled working conditions. The products could be sold to aggregates, which would then reutilise diverse waste such as pet bottles, rubber, etc. in order to generate energy. Additionally, a reparation workshop could contribute to the reutilisation of repairable tools found in the waste.
3. Finally, under the leadership of local Romani leaders, marginalised Romani village communities could be upgraded and hygienic standards increased and maintained, similar to the clean and established villages and small towns of the region. This would be achieved by the self-organising of Romani communities.
The sub-projects for Renewable energy systems (RES) technology-based municipal energy plants were the first to be realised. On the contrary, the realisation of the Romafa was still waiting for resource-strong stakeholders, at the time of this research (Febuary 2012 to May 2013). No municipalities or private entrepreneurs seemed ready to support the Romani Minority Self-government (RMS or in Hungarian CKÖ) initiatives. Instead, the municipalities asked were satisfied with the current arrangement for waste management. Three biogas aggregators were in the phase of ‘projectification’. Two of these planned units were to be arranged in collaboration with several municipalities and they planned to introduce a coupon system, though none of the planned plants were envisioned to be connected to the electricity supply of marginalised housing areas and were not to be placed adjacent to Romani settlements.
By focusing on the Romafa project’s efforts to incorporate social aspects into the utilisation of renewable energy, this chapter will contribute to our understanding of how different interests influence the targeting and realisation of developmental goals, aimed at improving the living conditions of marginalised groups, and whether and under which conditions the new model of governance can work, on the local level, for the benefit of those with the least resources.
 FA LEADER is one of Hungary’s regional leader groups. It is a pseudo-name, as are the names used for sub-projects and persons in this chapter in order to keep them anonymous.
Farnham: Ashgate, 2015. 183-206 p.