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Environmental discrimination of Roma people along Sajó wetlands in Hungary

Fewer resources in building public infrastructure and providing access to water, heating, and sewage in the flooding part of the Sajó river where Roma community reside.


Roma communities live in a settlement surrounded by wetland fields of the Sajó River in the town of Sajószentpéter. [1] 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Environmental discrimination of Roma people along Sajó wetlands in Hungary
State or province: Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county
Location of conflict:Sajószentpéter
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Water
Ecosystem Services
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

For almost 4 decades, the local government refuses to provide water and sanitation for the Roma part of the to Sajószentpéter town-- "across the bridge" [1]. When participatory research by The Sajó River Association for Environment and Community Development was conducted; the same day when the Roma settlement was flooded again; the government upgraded water pipes for the community [1].

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:2000 [1]
Start of the conflict:01/01/2004
Relevant government actors:???????????????
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Sajó River Association for Environment and Community Development
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Waste overflow
Potential: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Violations of human rights
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Sajó River Association for Environment and Community Development conducted a participatory research based on photographs and workshop with the Roma community [3]. The participatory research had as an objective to rise the environmental issues and health impacts the Roma community face and live for decades, but also rise awareness and point to the core issues about environmental injustices taking place in the community and at the expense of the Roma people[2] [3]. Finally the research has produced the Declaration of Environmental Justice of the Sajó River at local, national, and international level [3].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Although access to water has been improved in the community; it is not know whether or not the place where Roma people reside is still flooding or if sewerage and water quality control are preformed by the local government; and or if any other health idamages have occurred due to institutionalised environmental injustice around water and flooding for the Roma in the town.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Harper, Krista and The Sajó River Association for Environment and Community Development, Hungary, "Across the Bridge: Using

PhotoVoice to Study Environment and Health in a Romani Community." (2009)
[click to view]

[2] Bari, J., Harper, K. (2007). Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends. In Barbara Rose Johnston, Lisa Hiwasaki, Irene J. Klaver, Ameyali Ramos Castillo, Veronica Strang (Editors). Springer Publishing France.

[3] The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice. 2018. 2nd edition.
[click to view]

[4] News Floodings in Miskolc and its surroundings.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek, ICTA-UAB
Last update08/08/2019
Conflict ID:4184
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