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Segregated Roma community lack adequate access to waste and water in Sajókaza, Hungary

The Roma neighbourhood in Sajókaza is cut off from the Hungarian part of the village by a separation wall. Roma families suffer from the lack of access to water and sanitation, from low indoor air quality due to energy poverty and mold.


In the Hungarian town of Sajókaza a wall forces the Roma minority to live in segregation from the majority Hungarian population where they lack access to basic environmental and health services, such as drinking tap water, and suffer energy poverty. In the village of approximately 3,000 inhabitants located in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County in North-Eastern Hungary, around 15 % belong to the Roma community. Most of them live in the segregated Roma neighboorhod located in the East periphery of the town, in former miners' houses in the Sólyom settlement where houses lack of any comfort such as running tap water, bathroom, proper insulation and safe heating systems.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Segregated Roma community lack adequate access to waste and water in Sajókaza, Hungary
State or province:Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén
Location of conflict:Sajókaza
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
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The conflict is not due to any project but is due to the segregation of a Roma settlement from the village of the Hungarian majority and the lack of proper provision of basic environmental services including access to water, proper sanitation and canalization, waste services and provision of adequate heating facilities.

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:200-400
Start of the conflict:01/01/1990
Relevant government actors:Municipality of Sajókaza
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Groups mobilizing:Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Potential: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts, Infectious diseases
Other Health impactsVarious health issues related to lack of proper sanitation, exposure to bad indoor air quality and humidity and mold on walls. The reasons for the bad health of many Roma inhabitants of the village are complex due to several social and environmental factors. According to reports life expectancy is between 40 - 60 [4].
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsEnvironmental justice issues including a lack of access to water, energy poverty, lack of proper sanitation are closely linked to the violation of other rights, in particular the right to decent housing. Roma families are exposed to a worse environmental conditions next to other dimensions of social exclusion.
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Proposal and development of alternatives:No alternatives have been proposed. he community remains separated by a built wall. However, the leader of the minority has asked for the installation of water pipes, decent canalization as well as support for fire wood.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Since 2016, measures have been taken by the municipality and it provided a budget for the minority representative to take action. The lack of a proper canalization system and the problem of erosion were partially addressed in 2019. The mayor provided a piece of land for cultivating crops in particular for the elderly and the young people in the Roma community. However, in October 2019 elections take place and there is a fear that the installation of the water pipes or the heating wood support will be cut again. The cooperation between the mayor and the minority leader is fragile and the Roma families are left in a vulnerable situation. The minority leader felt threatened by the field visit due to previous negative experiences. Due to previous conflicts between the Hungarian and Roma people in the village, the municipality installed a wall to segregate the Roma neighborhood in 2018 which ensures the perpetuation of the segregation.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

The right to water and sanitation according to the General Comment No. 4 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provided as follows: “The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise.” Hungary only ensures 20 liters per day for some groups of people. Pursuant to Article 58 of the Act CCIX of 2011 on Public Water Utilities (Public Water Utilities Act) the service provider shall limit or cut off the users insofar as the supply of drinking water meets the needs of subsistence and public health. The public health requirements of drinking water supply is ensured if the drinking water supply is at least 20 liter per person and day and the utility is within a distance of 150 meters or less from the place of residence. In order to supply drinking water that meets the needs of subsistence and public health, the water utilities provider shall establish a public water tap at the expense of the local government. The costs of operating the public water tap are paid by the local government to the water utility service provider. The Public Water Utilities Act only provides to those the amount of 20 litres per person and day who are cut off by the service. Those who have never been part of the service area as it is the case with Roma in segregated neighbourhoods are not covered by the provision.
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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Hajdu, G. et al., Környezeti igazságosság Magyarországon [“Environmental injustice in Hungary”] issued by Védegylet, the Hungarian Budapest-based NGO, (2010)
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[2] Reportage in television about the reasons for installing a wall between the Roma neighborhood and the Hungarian houses (noise and waste)
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[4] Portray of the Roma live in different Roma villages in the region, including Sajokaza.
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Meta information
Contributor:Zsuzsanna Kovacs, [email protected]
Last update02/08/2019
Conflict ID:4367
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