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.
Donation of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) is common during emergencies and this undermines breastfeeding and also contributes to environmental degradation. IYCF-E must be included as one of the first activities of response and there is an opportunity to integrate IYCF-E with other sectors. Breastmilk is a renewable resource that is environmentally friendly, produced without pollution, and consumed with a minimal ecological footprint. In order to demonstrate the important role of breastfeeding in ensuring infant health and minimal environmental footprint, it must be promoted in emergency response, avoiding the importation of BMS. However, it is also important to acknowledge that some children cannot be breastfed (for various reasons).
Nutritional support and micronutrient supplementation for pregnant and lactating women affected by an emergency are crucial, together with proper counseling to ensure community support and acceptance. However, it is also important to acknowledge that some children cannot be breastfed (for various reasons).
Women need support in understanding the importance of breastfeeding on health and also on the environment, and how breastfeeding substitutes can harm both health and the environment.
Natural resource depletion
Impact on wellbeing / mental health
1 – Support women with breastfeeding difficulties
2 – Counselling on how to adopt/include breastfeeding
3 – Support to breastfeeding mothers in understanding impacts of the environment on breastfeeding and impacts of breastfeeding susbstitutes on the environment
1 – Example message to include: BREASTFEEDING is inclusive, sustainable, equitable and environmentally friendly, life-saving, and economy-driving. Refer to https://www.aliveandthrive.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Breastfeeding-A-Key-to-Sustainable-Development.pdf . The main activity will be to support mothers in overcoming breastfeeding difficulties – counseling on how to adopt/include breastfeeding.
2 – In communication activities: A ) ensure the promotion of proper disposal of packing and waste is part of the key messages developed for new resources introduced (new types of food, RUTF, MNPs), food supplements.
B) include key messages on the cultivation of fresh fruit and vegetables, the consumption of micronutrient-fortified foods, or the purchase of micronutrient-rich foods from local markets.
C) develop key messages for cooking techniques that reduce energy usage and cooking times. However, it is to be noted, animal-based foods are the best source of nutrients for infants.
D) Include environmental considerations into your advocacy messages to governments.
3 – When working in high/middle-income countries/groups contexts, global dietary patterns need to move towards more plant-heavy diets, mainly due to the disproportionate impact of animal agriculture on biodiversity, land use, and the environment. Such a shift, coupled with the reduction of global food waste, would reduce demand and the pressure on the environment and land, benefit the health of populations around the world, and help reduce the risk of pandemics. With farming practices that are more nature-friendly, designed to support biodiversity, promote limiting the use of inputs, and replacing monoculture with polyculture farming practices. Dietary change is necessary to enable land to be returned to nature, and to allow widespread adoption of nature-friendly farming without increasing the pressure to convert additional natural land to agriculture.
Nutritional advice given in Darfur included training and demonstration on personal hygiene and on disease transmission from the addition of water to babies’ milk. Support was given on improving mothers’ nutrition and fluid intaking and breastfeeding support. Infant sicknesses reduced.
The number of mothers supported to start or return to breastfeeding.
Time for planning and consulting and getting to know local cultural norms and behaviours and designing appropriate messages that are likely to be well accepted by the community. Intensive consultation is required.