Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.

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VEHA - Field Implementation Guidance

Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies
Support for appropriate IYCF in Emergencies
Advocate for a diversity of food that meets the nutritional requirements of children over 6 months of age

Advocate for a diversity of food that meets the nutritional requirements of children over 6 months of age


Environmental factors causing/contributing to the needs and affecting the humanitarian activity

The reduction in agrobiodiversity, coupled with increased access to processed and ultra-processed foods of more limited nutritional value, contributes to the general trend toward the simplification of human diets. Paradoxically, whilst trade in agricultural products has led to increased consumer choice, the homogenization of agricultural crops and livestock production (i.e. reduced varieties, species, or breeds) also limits the nutritional value of food choices available to communities and individuals.

The loss of genetic crops and breeds used for food is of particular concern. The steady decline of genetic diversity in agroecosystems resulting from intense selection has been dramatic, affecting not only cultivated plant varieties but also their wild relatives.

For rural communities in low-income countries, there is NOT an increase in consumer choice. Also, in humanitarian contexts, GM foods may actually have a place. (refer to WFP and FAOs work).

In camp settings – both IDP and refugee, all food is provided by aid agencies and there is no option for wild fish or meat. Sadly, for many contexts, humanitarian funding is so limited, that food baskets consist of the minimum number of essential items.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Use information on age-and sex-specific incidences of illness, nutrition indicators, and health conditions to tailor activities.


Environmental Impact Categories

Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems

Natural resource depletion

Summary of Impacts
Summary of Potential environmental impacts
  • The loss of biodiversity across food landscapes and seascapes, its unsustainable use and misuse, can have multiple impacts on nutrition and health, both directly and indirectly, with the potential of more than one risk factor occurring within the same individual, household, and population.
  • This also impacts natural food chains and is likely to be causing genetic weaknesses in different plant and animal species.
Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

The consumption of wild species provides food and nutrition security for many communities, particularly in low- and middle-income countries and many diets are highly dependent on wild plant and animal food sources. Wild fish and other aquatic species are especially important sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids for many small coastal communities. Consumption of wild foods can also sometimes present health and social hazards, for example when wildlife is improperly handled or cooked or is a result of the unregulated trade and consumption of illegal wildlife.


Summary of environmental activities
  • Design food systems that are nutrition-sensitive and place a value on biodiversity
  • Support re-introduction of traditional crops, particularly those that are drought and flood-tolerant
  • Support changes to alternative crops where they provide a combination of better drought, flood and pest tolerance, and nutritional value.
  • Support greater adoption of vegetarian diets.
Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities
  • Facilitate the diversification of local food products and increase the production of climate-resilient and nutrient-dense crops, and small-scale livestock. Support re-introduction of traditional crops, particularly those that are drought and flood tolerant. Support changes to alternative crops where they provide a combination of better drought, flood, and pest tolerance, and nutritional value.
  • Improve processing, storage, and preservation methods to retain nutritional value, promote food safety, reduce seasonality, post-harvest loss, and increase food availability in times of scarcity.
  • Integrate explicit nutrition and biodiversity objectives and indicators into the design of food system policies and programmes, and track and mitigate potential trade-offs.
  • Support greater adoption of vegetarian diets. Look for ways to protect natural land and restore the environment through replanting trees, re-establishing drainage and watercourses.
Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Foundations for Farming in Zimbabwe have supported farmers in growing traditional crop varieties; diversifying foods, and using conservation agriculture methods in a context where chemical inputs are both unaffordable and degrading land. They have demonstrated that crop yields have increased and people’s nutrition has improved.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

The number of resilient traditional foods identified and reinstated.

Activity Status
Very high
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities
  • Prevention of environmental damage
  • Mitigation of environmental damage
  • Environmental enhancement
Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)
  • Time and budget for assessment, community consultation, and restoring land and traditional crops.
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