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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

As Slovakia grapples with the new phenomenon of open unemployment, the establishment of an institutional framework to create regional employment agencies has become a priority concern of the Government. Since the beginning of 1991, 38 district employment agencies have been created that have gradually branched into 105 local employment agencies.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

In 1991, the first two fundamental pieces of legislation related to employment were drafted; namely the Employment Act, and an act concerning the performance of state agencies in enforcing employment policy. A third complementary law, which had been adopted in the period prior to the independence of the Slovak Republic, helped to create a comprehensive legal framework for employment policy. Its enforcement provisions have been amended to reflect the changing conditions in the Slovak labor market.

In the event of material or social need, the basic conditions of living are provided within the social assistance system. The basis of this system is minimum subsistence (first introduced in 1991). The law stipulates benefits for nutrition and other personal needs for adults and children, and benefits to help run a household. Social benefits are a replacement for regular income and are used to ensure a minimum income level. Each citizen is guaranteed social assistance equivalent to the minimum subsistence.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

The main objectives of active labor market policy after 1989, enforced by employment offices, is the provision of retraining services, allocation of unemployment benefits, and the implementation of policy programs that support job creation. Active labor market policy implemented by state employment authorities and funded by the Employment Fund of the Slovak Republic in 1995 has been dynamic. Job creation, the employment of persons requiring special care (graduates, handicapped persons), and more diligent monitoring of registered job seekers, has resulted in a relatively significant drop in the unemployment rate.

The Government encourages collective bargaining on wages and salaries in order to ensure a decent life for employees and their families, combat inflation, and deter unemployment. In order to contribute to these objectives, the Government has identified the need to increase the minimum wage and establish new remuneration rules and incentives.

The State provides assistance under its social support system. The most common benefit is that paid out at childbirth, including a parenthood allowance and a child allowance. State benefits are not granted universally, but rather, as means-tested benefits. Other benefits are also envisaged, such as a housing allowance and loans to young married couples. As of 1998, regional and state administrative agencies will act as providers.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

In Slovakia, unemployment varies by region, and in some areas exceeds 25%. The high unemployment rate has largely affected young people embarking on their professional careers. In general, purchasing power parity has decreased by 25% from 1989 to 1995.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

The Employment Fund of the Slovak Republic is responsible for the administration of social assistance funds.

Cooperation  

No information is available

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Slovakia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update:  April 1997.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

According to the 1991 Census, Slovakia had a population of 5.27 million. During the 1970-1980 period, the annual increase in population size averaged 1%, while in the following decade a 0.5% increase was reported. However, in the 1991-1994 period, the annual population decreased by 0.4%.

Migration is closely linked to the structure and dynamics of the overall economic, social, and environmental development of society. Migration is among those demographic phenomena in which the impacts of sweeping political, economic, and social changes are manifested most profoundly. The shaping of migration processes in the early 1990s was determined by two significant events: the break-up of the Czechoslovakian Federal Republic; and the establishment of the independent Slovak Republic. From the viewpoint of internal migration, the population moved from smaller to larger communities. The age structure of rural areas deteriorated, the ageing process accelerated, and the structure of the migrating population was increasingly dominated by men.

Socioeconomic changes after 1989 have opened up new opportunities for in- and out-migration. In 1989, there were eight major immigration regions. However, during 1991-1993, 17 counties reported population increases due to immigration. Since 1993, migration between the Slovakia and the Czech Republic has been classified as migration abroad.

Challenges  

Within the framework of the former Czechoslovakia, the population of Slovakia had a young age structure. However, the country is starting to lose this characteristic. The economic and social transformation of society has brought about new employment and private venture opportunities. For young people, starting a family is not a priority issue. Also, changes in social policy have taken place in which the Government no longer grants extensive benefits to all families, and some earlier measures have been curtailed (loans to young married couples), or modified (the amount of child allowance is contingent on the child's age). Population growth rates have also dropped because of the increasing cost of living for families with children, lack of housing, unemployment, etc. For these reasons, Slovakia's demographic behavior now approximates that of its Western neighbors.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies 

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

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This information was provided by the Government of Slovakia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update:   April 1997.

Click here for the ECE Statistical country profile for the Slovak Republic.

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

One of the Slovak Government's long-term objectives is to extend life-expectancy and reduce morbidity rates to Western European averages. Among the major components involved in restructuring the health establishment network are: ensuring appropriate health care of every citizen; ensuring equality in the availability of health care and its quality; increasing performance, efficiency, quality, and economy of health care; shifting the focus of the health care delivery to preventive health care; expanding the primary health care network; establishing conditions for home nursing; and expanding care of the aged, the elderly, and the chronically sick in facilities with less costly "social" beds.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

As of January 1995, several health insurance agencies have been operating in the Slovak Republic. National insurance law pertaining to the insurance premiums (paid by the state) has been amended three times.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

As of July 1990, non-governmental organizations have been involved in rendering social services in Slovakia. Organizations include: the Union of the Blind and Persons With Impaired Eyesight in Slovakia, the Slovak Union of the Handicapped, the Slovak Union of Persons with Impaired Hearing, the Handicapped Club, the Association Assisting the Retarded in the Slovak Republic, etc. Although these associations operate nationally, they are largely of regional significance and focus on a narrow group of beneficiaries.

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

The average life expectancy at birth for men (66.5 years) is 6-7 years less than for women (75.3 years), and 5-7 years less than in developed countries. Mortality rates, which increased by 2.2 per thousand in the years 1860-1980, have since stagnated. Adverse environmental impacts are seen in some districts through increased parental and infant mortality, a growth in the number of risk pregnancies and children born with congenital defects, an increase in the number of disabled and handicapped, and the rise of socio-pathological phenomena. The majority of diseases are heart and vascular diseases (53.3%), and one-fifth are malignant tumors (19.0%). The morbidity and mortality from malignant tumors has nearly doubled since 1965.

A direct manifestation of the negative impacts of work is occupational hazards and disease. In 1985, among the most frequently reported occupational diseases were cases of dermatosis (342), zoonotic bacterial diseases communicated directly or via agents (272 cases), and hearing disorders due to excessive noise. Due to changes in selected technologies, and the elimination of sources and causes of risk, the incidence of some conventional industrial poisonings declined (by lead, phosphorus, mercury, arsenic, chromium, carbon disulfide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, benzene, nitro and amino benzene compounds, hydrogen halide, glycerine nitrate esters). In 1992, the most dramatic increase of occupational asthma in the country was recorded.

Challenges  

According to the 1995 Human Development Report, the pollution level impacting the environment of the Slovak Republic in 1989 reached such a stage that it became the principle reason for the degradation of the health of the general population. Many harmful substances can be found in the air, water, and the food chain. The deteriorated state of the environment, low living standards, and unsatisfactory health care provision are considered by the Government to be the three main factors that negatively influence life expectancy and disease rates. Despite declines in production and the attendant decrease in environmental pollution, the environment continues to negatively affect the population, having a significant influence, for example, on allergic diseases.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies 

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Slovakia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update:  April 1997.

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EDUCATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

Based on the Declaration of the Slovak Government Programme, the Ministry of the Environment committed itself, in the document entitled Strategy, Principles and Priorities of the State Environmental Policy, to establish complete school and extra-curricular systems of environmental education by 1997.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

Environmental training and education in the Slovak Republic are ensured first of all by the present school system. Another important role in implementing environmental training and education is played by non-governmental organizations. Environmental publicity that has the greatest influence on the creation of public environmental awareness is ensured by several specialized periodicals. This subject is dealt with sporadically by the daily press, radio, and television.

Programmes and Projects   

The main objective of the "Complex Project of Public Environmental Training and Education" in Slovakia is to improve the current state of the public's reception to environmental principles which is targeted to all ages and social groups. The given Project is divided in three stages; the first analytical one has been completed.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Slovakia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update:   April 1997.

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Construction and Public Works is responsible for housing policy in the Slovak Republic. According to the Human Development report, none of the post-1989 Slovak governments have exercised diligence in the enforcement of housing policy reform. Housing construction over the past few years has come to a standstill due to restricted state support, the deepening gap between prices of housing units and real income of the population, and persistent rent controls. Resolving the housing issue is a nationwide task. With state support, approximately 11,000 apartments will be built annually by the year 2000.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

The current level of Slovak transport infrastructure is below the European standard. The highway network, 195 km long, is far behind the European Union average. Road network coverage of "adequate" quality is not homogeneous. Despite the good quality of the surfaces of class I roads, their width and lane parameters are substandard. In 1995, the Government of Slovakia adopted a new concept of highway network development. Preparatory measures are being finalized for the construction of a highway network with a total length of 660 km before the year 2005.

The significance of noise and vibrations with adverse impact on the quality of the environment, human health, and on animal and plant kingdoms is increasing. In 1993, the preparation of an amendment to the Decree of the Slovak Ministry of Health No. 14/1977 on health protection against the adverse impact of noise and vibrations was initiated. The adverse impact of traffic noise can be primarily assigned to trams (76.2;%), followed by railroads (13.6 %), and air transport (10.3%).

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

In the past, the housing unit had the reputation of being a social accomplishment, and the objective of housing policy was to ensure that every census household had its own housing unit. Housing construction and the distribution of units was subject to a planning and allocation system that was centrally driven and took into account the concentration of economic activities, social aspects, etc. Today, the citizen is responsible for procuring his own dwelling. The state and the municipality provide conditions suitable for this purpose enabling access to adequate housing for everyone. The state is involved in the construction of non-market housing units for low-income households and vulnerable groups. 

In November 1995, the Government of Slovakia adopted a new concept to state housing policy. One of its key objectives until the year 2000 is to retain a quantitative housing standard of 307 housing units per 1,000 inhabitants. This would require the economic conditions that would enable the completion of more than 90,000 housing units until the year 2000.

According to the Government, economic instruments must be pursued during the 1996-2000 period to promote sound housing policy. The first step would be the creation of an autonomous state housing development fund that would be initiated with funds from the state budget. Among other economic instruments, the most important are: loans, particularly savings and loans for construction undertakings; mortgage loans and guarantees; a system of allowances (for example, allowance against rental); and tax instruments (for example, tax benefits for selected taxpayers, tax base deductible items during the housing loan repayment period, differentiation of land tax and real estate tax at the local government level, etc.).

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

In the first half of 1995, 2,847 housing units were completed, or 124 units (4.2%) less than for the previous year. Detached houses experienced the most significant drop in the number of units completed (approximately 408). The number of housing units, in all forms of housing construction, built in 1990 in Slovakia was 42,666 (of which 10,083 were detached houses). This may serve as an indication that the housing system of the former period has not yet made the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy.

In Slovakia, 136 settlements are considered urban and 54.2% of the population resides in urban areas. The small number of large cities is typical of the urban settlement structure. Only Bratislava and Kosice have more inhabitants than 200,000 people. In 1991, central heating was available in 74% of the permanently occupied dwelling units and 89% had a bathroom or a showering cabinet. As a medium-term objective, the government would like to increase the percentage of the population living in residences connected to sewage lines to 60%.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

The year 1989 marked the end of Slovakia's isolation from Western Europe. Its frontiers opened, thus creating new conditions for urbanization along the frontiers with Austria and in the rest of Slovakia's territory. The split from the Czech Republic led to a modification in transport. The trans-regional east-west flow of raw materials, goods, energy, and services became radial supported by the geo-political location of Slovakia in the heart of the European continent. Western Slovakia became part of a territory with the most promising development prospects within Europe. The Slovak part of this territory is relatively well-prepared for this from an infrastructure viewpoint. Highways, electrified double-track railway lines, and systems of energy and power supply are currently available. The European arterial waterway, the Danube river, flows through this part of Slovakia. This territory has the carrying capacity to support further urbanization.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Slovakia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update:  April 1997.

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