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ROMA_Environmental discrimination of Roma people along Sajó wetlands in Hungary


Description:

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

However, unofficial trash heaps and dumping sites are informally situated in and near the Roma's part of the wetlands neighbourhood where all residents of the town dispose their domestic waste. At the same time the municipality does not provide the waste removal [1]. This diminishes Roma people's capability to  enjoy sense of connection to surrounding wetlands through fishing and recreation along the river, as other residents do. There is also a poor infrastructure in the Roma part of the town, and the community has limited access to potable water and indoor sewerage [1]. 

As the consequence, the Roma community has to carry water from a distant and public water pumps from the streets in order to be able to drink, cook, and wash [2].  In winter days, however, the water pumps on the streets freeze, and this is when the community is again left without drinkable and potable water [2]. 

The Roma settlement is often flooded leaving the settlement covered in muddy and contaminated "pools". Also, the only available water then is contaminated due to flooding, which in 2004 for example, lead to serious health issues as the Hepatitis A out-break when the flooding water got contaminated by sewerage leaks  [2]. 

A research  carried outin the community in 2009 [1] found several environmental justice concerns: access to public infrastructure such as indoor water, sewerage and safe playgrounds, waste and dumping, energy and fuel poverty, and low-quality housing. However, the research also revealed that community members are attached to the Sajó River landscape, their enjoyment of household gardens and animals. Still deeply rooted discrimination, and prejudice against the Roma are based on racism and contribute to their social and environmental  exclusion.  This could be called "environmental racism".

Accordingly, the Roma community are excluded from  liveable environment and possibilities to access and use the river; such as bicycling, fishing, gardening, and animal husbandry in community but are not "allowed" to use and enjoy these practices- the Sajó river wetlands due to racism and discrimination at the governmental, community, and individual level [1]. 

Another flooding occurred in 2010, but this time also affected non-Roma residents of the town. The governmental representatives and mesures for helping affected residents were immediately on the site [4]. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:ROMA_Environmental discrimination of Roma people along Sajó wetlands in Hungary
Country: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 :Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water access rights and entitlements
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Water
Ecosystem Services

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
https://www.radaysalon.org/environmental_justice/

Conflict and 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..)

Impacts of the project

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

Outcome

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
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 and 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)
https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1000&context=anthro_faculty_pubs

[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.
https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Environmental-Justice/Holifield-Chakraborty-Walker/p/book/9781138932821

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] News Hvg.hu: Floodings in Miskolc and its surroundings.
https://hvg.hu/nagyitas/20100516_arviz_nagyitas

Other documents

Woman collecting water from the public wells on the street Photo by Mariann Bari in "Across the bridge" document by Krista Harper
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Screenshot_2019-07-18_at_14.32.09.png

Boy standing next to latrine outside the house Photo by Mariann Bari in "Across the bridge" document by Krista Harper
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Screenshot_2019-07-18_at_14.32.25.png

Another flooding in 2010 A girl standing in the patio surrounded by flooded land in the Roma settlment. Source: Hvg.hu
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/image.jpeg

The Sajó wetlands landscape of the Sajó wetlands, which in the Roma part of the town is used as informal garbage dump by other residents in the town. Photo by Mariann Bari in "Across the bridge" document by Krista Harper
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Screenshot_2019-07-18_at_14.57.08.png

Meta information

Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek, ICTA-UAB
Last update08/08/2019

Images

 

Woman collecting water from the public wells on the street

Photo by Mariann Bari in "Across the bridge" document by Krista Harper

Boy standing next to latrine outside the house

Photo by Mariann Bari in "Across the bridge" document by Krista Harper

The Sajó wetlands

landscape of the Sajó wetlands, which in the Roma part of the town is used as informal garbage dump by other residents in the town. Photo by Mariann Bari in "Across the bridge" document by Krista Harper

Another flooding in 2010

A girl standing in the patio surrounded by flooded land in the Roma settlment. Source: Hvg.hu