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A polluted stream and a landfill as racial segregation of Roma communities, in Jarovnice, Slovak Republic


A Roma settlement in Jarovnice is separated from the rest of Slovakian

neighbours by a stream which is  contains waste disposals, as  waste

collection services are denied for the Roma [1]. Moreover,  there is

also a municipal waste disposal situated close to the settlement  [6].

The Roma  settled in the area after the Word War II,  just next next to forests, in the middle of fields or on river banks: these were the only places where they were allowed to settle down and start over [4]. But  their neighbourhood  until today (2019) is dotted with poverty and institutional deprivation  and oppression [1]. The Roma do not have access to clean water either and the stream on their side is polluted and filled with waste [1] [2] [3]. Additionally, wooden toilets are build on the bank of the river, and the waste goes directly into the river waters [8]. The Roma collect and use the polluted water, because there is no other water available for them [7] [8]. 

Furthermore, mismanagement of near forests and water catchment areas, clear cutting and illegal logging are environmental problems with impacts on the water- retention capacity in the area contributing to flood intensity, to which Roma settlements are exposed to as well [5]. In 1998, there was a flooding period in which 48 people died. But 45 people from the 48 were Roma [5]. 

The settlement is built on land which cannot be classified as a wetland; it is solid ground. But,  digging a hole deeper than a meter would be immediately flooded by groundwater, and thus is not suitable for construction of normal bricked or wooden houses requiring a solid basement [1]. On the muddy ground, the Roma live in shacks on an adjacent field [1]. A rickety steel bridge connects two sides of the settlement, where Roma children often play [1]. 

Approximately 400 Roma live on this small "island"  in the lower part of the village. Approximately 25 huts, mud houses and shelters occupy a 200 m3 space on the "island" [6]. Since a landfill for municipal waste is located on the slope area. Hence, the space is overcrowded and the soil and water are likely contaminated from landfill runoff [6].


Basic Data

Name of conflict:A polluted stream and a landfill as racial segregation of Roma communities, in Jarovnice, Slovak Republic
Country:Slovak Republic
State or province:Prešov
Location of conflict:Jarovnice
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Ecosystem Services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

There is no a particular development project taking place in this case. However the Roma and the settlement they live in is vulnerable exposure to toxic substances from the landfill located near by, to polluted river by the waste and wooden toilets, as well as to floods [1] [2] [3] [7]. There is no access access to potable water and municipal waste management practices are discriminatory [5] [7] [8].

Level of Investment:Unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:4,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2007
Relevant government actors:The mayor of Jarovnice municipality
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ETP Slovakia, a nonprofit organisation that works with Roma in the east Slovakia. Mainly housing loan programs.

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Official complaint letters and petitions


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases, Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement


Project StatusIn operation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The ETP Slovakia NGO proposes a workshop and financial loan for Roma communities to build their own houses [3]. However, Jarovnice administration fail to integrate and secure basic needs for Roma such as housing and access to water [6]. Instead the government ignores and marginalises the Roma, does not either provide waste removal in the settlement [5] [7] [8].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Nothing has been changed so far. Roma communities still live in an extreme poverty without proper houses nor clean water. The water source the Roma use is polluted either by municipal landfill, the discriminatory practices of no waste removal for the community, and another issue are built toilets close to the river bank. The polluted "separation" water against the Roma community persist.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Amnesty International Publications 2007: Still Separated, still unequal. Roma people in Slovakia

[4] Harper, Krista; Steger, Tamara; and Filcak, Richard, "Environmental Justice and Roma Communities in Central and Eastern Europe" (2009). Environmental Policy and Governance. 5.

[5] Environmental justice in the Slovak Republik: The case of Roma Ethnic minority.

[7]Filcak, R. 2007. PhD dissertation. Environmental Justice in the Slovak Republic: A case study of the Roma Ethnic Minority.


[8] Filčak, R. 2012. Living Beyond the Pale: Environmental Justice and the Roma Minority. Central European University Press. Budapest, Hungary. Pages: 118-122.

[1] In pictures: Roma slums in Romania and Slovakia

[3] Life in Slovakia's Roma slums: Poverty and segregation

[] Floods hit eastern Slovakia hard

[6] Stenger, T. 2007. Making the case for environmental justice in Europe.

Meta information

Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek ICTA-UAB
Last update08/09/2019