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Unsafe access to water for Roma communities in Bardejov, Slovak Republic


Description:

A Roma settlement situated at the outskirts of the town of Nižný Tvarožec is located by only 500 meters from a highly intensified agricultural farm [1]. 

The only access to water for Roma is an unprotected well contaminated by high-intensity agricultural farm  [1].  Therefore, the Roma community is highly exposed to water with highly toxic substances [1] because the Roma here are left without access to drinking water by the local authorities and have no other solution but to drink water from the unprotected well contaminated by agricultural pesticides and biological material [1].

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and to UN Development Programs (UNDP) submitted water from the well to a certified water lab in Košice in May 2014, and the test results revealed that the quality of the water was of poor quality and significantly contaminated by nitrogen [1]. 

It is well known that pesticides resist degradation and thus remain in the environment for years. Moreover, such compounds have the ability to bioaccumulate. Repeated application of pesticides leads to loss of biodiversity and increased pest resistance, while its effects on people are related to several diseases including cancers, leukemia, and asthma. The risk of health hazards due to pesticide exposure depends not only on how toxic the ingredients are but also on the level of exposure. In addition, certain people such as children, pregnant women, or aging populations may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others [2].

The mayor of Nižný Tvarožec does not consider the Roma settlement a part of her municipality and therefore did take any actions to improve the water quality [1]. The mayor declared to the ERRC and to UNDP researchers that there was 100% water pipe coverage in the town of Nižný Tvarožec [1]. The result of denied access to clean water is also the residential racial segregation and marginalization the Roma's face. Sometimes the Roma have to walk several kilometers to the nearest water source [1].  

The Roma community in the settlement surrounded by the agricultural farm that practices with high input and intensive agricultural production, still lack access to clean and potable water, as the only source of water for the Roma is the open and contaminated open well. The well is also the only water resource for 120 Romani people[1]. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Unsafe access to water for Roma communities in Bardejov, Slovak Republic
Country:Slovak Republic
State or province:Bardejov
Location of conflict:Nižný Tvarožec
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
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific commodities:Water
Pesticides
Biological resources

Project Details and Actors

Project details

FARMA Busov sro is a privately owned agricultural farm, situated just next to to the Roma settlement. Due to its provisional services for intensified agricultural product, the near water source is highly contaminated, but at the same time it is the only drinkable water resource for the Roma community that lives very close to the farm [1] In 2018, FARMA Busov sro increased its profit by 28% and sales increased by 24% to 2,156 mil. € [2]. the Mayor of the Nižný Tvarožec town does not recognise the Roma houses as official one belonging to the town she rules, so no adequate measures have been done in order to provide the Roma people with drinkable water [1].

Level of Investment:2,156,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:100
Start of the conflict:01/01/2014
Company names or state enterprises:FARMA Busov sro from Slovak Republic - Use of pesticide that contaminates the only open water well resource for Roma community
Relevant government actors:The mayor of Nižný Tvarožec, current mandate (2019).
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=4907
UN Development Programs (UNDP) https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home.html

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
European Roma Research Centre (ERRC) and United Nation Development Program (UNDP) researchers tested the quality and contamination of the water well source, which proved to be of poor quality and highly contaminated by pesticides.

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Genetic contamination, Soil contamination, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Displacement, Specific impacts on women
Other socio-economic impactsSpecific impacts on: children, pregnant women, or aging populations may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Water examination by the ERRC to prove the contaminated state. However the industrialised production of the farm is still in the operation.
Development of alternatives:No alternatives have been developed so far. However, the ERRC submitted water from the well to a certified water lab in Košice in May 2014 and the test results revealed that the quality of the water was poor and significantly contaminated by nitrogen.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Roma community remains living near the industrialised farm. As the only available water source is the unprotected well, the Roma drink water from the well which is contaminated with nitrogen and other biological substances due to the farm's intensive industrial agricultural production.

Sources & Materials

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

[2] Ki-Hyun, K., Ehsanul, K., Shamin, A.J. (2017). Exposure to pesticides and the associated human health effects. Science of the Total Environment. Vol. 575. Pages: 525-535.
https://loupfilles.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/pesticides-and-associated-health-effects-2017.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] THIRSTING FOR JUSTICE : A REPORT BY THE EUROPEAN ROMA RIGHTS CENTRE (2017)
http://www.errc.org/uploads/upload_en/file/thirsting-for-justice-march-2017.pdf

[2] FARMA Busov sro
https://www.finstat.sk/46424237

Other documents

The town of Nižný Tvarožec, Roma settlement and the location of FARMA Busov sro On the left: FARMA Busov sro, in the middle, just next to the farm there is the Roma settlement; and on the right the right non-Roma populated town of Nižný Tvarožec surrounded by rural green landscapes
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Screenshot_2019-06-25_at_18.37.05.png

Children playing in the field in the settlement of Nižný Tvarožec Source: Juraj Mravec. https://www.aktuality.sk/fotogaleria/378942/roky-pracuje-s-romami-mnohi-uradnici-do-osady-ani-nechceli-ist/6/
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/XN6-86-ZS1alK9Stido7GA_Osada-v-Ni-nom-Tvaro-ci.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek ICTA-UAB
Last update09/08/2019

Images

 

Children playing in the field in the settlement of Nižný Tvarožec

Source: Juraj Mravec. https://www.aktuality.sk/fotogaleria/378942/roky-pracuje-s-romami-mnohi-uradnici-do-osady-ani-nechceli-ist/6/

The town of Nižný Tvarožec, Roma settlement and the location of FARMA Busov sro

On the left: FARMA Busov sro, in the middle, just next to the farm there is the Roma settlement; and on the right the right non-Roma populated town of Nižný Tvarožec surrounded by rural green landscapes