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.
Evidence has shown that in the right circumstances, giving people cash is a superior and less expensive way to meet their needs that helps give people choice and dignity and reduces their sense of dependency on external solutions. CVA gives independence and local empowerment to people in need. It provides households with flexibility in identifying and meeting their priority needs. It also reduces costs and the environmental impact of procurement, transport, and storage, whilst supporting local livelihoods and markets.
The use of cash as an assistance modality brings both opportunities and new complexities in the interaction between humanitarian relief and environmental impacts. Negative impacts may emerge when markets and local supply chains are unregulated and unsustainable or when the type of goods and services procured inadvertently increase risk. It may be necessary to put conditionalities or restrictions on CVA if negative environmental impacts are observed. These could include people using the cash to buy equipment or transport to unsustainably deplete natural resources for income. Unrestricted cash and cash from re-selling distributed food or food purchased with vouchers may be used to fund unsustainable or illicit environmentally damaging coping mechanisms.
Involving at-risk groups in environmental food/cash for work activities could help to empower them to become drivers of change, have positive environmental impacts, and influence wider community behaviour change.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion
Like most forms of assistance Cash and Voucher Assistance can strengthen or increase environmental impacts and environmental risk. Sourcing local materials to support livelihoods may compromise fragile environmental conditions and potentially cause irreversible damage to ecosystems. If CVA is insufficient, beneficiaries may choose materials that are less environmentally sustainable, unhealthy, and/or of lower quality.
Well-designed CVA activities can reduce environmental impacts or even mitigate existing impacts.
Unconditional, unrestricted, or multipurpose cash grants can be used to strengthen or to, usually unintentionally, increase environmental impacts and environmental risk, in the same way, that all forms of assistance can be used well or not. Food security assistance may be implemented regardless of environmental conditions, and in a manner that increases vulnerability to disasters. Local sourcing may compromise fragile environmental conditions, and potentially cause irreversible damage to ecosystems. If the amount of cash transferred is insufficient, beneficiaries may choose materials which are less environmentally sustainable, unhealthy, and/or of lower quality. The provision of sustainable alternatives, accompanied by training and awareness-raising of environmental impacts is necessary.
Where market and livelihoods are not functioning due to disaster impact, communities might enter into environmentally harmful strategies such as overconsumption of natural sensitive resources. An example includes wildlife being unsustainably consumed, sometimes as a result of unregulated trade and illegal consumption. More people are expected to be driven to engage in dangerous occupations, such as gold panning and informal mining, to try to make money. Another example is community firewood collection for charcoal production, to cook food, and to generate income when their normal livelihood is failing. It can result in deforestation, soil erosion and increases the risk for flooding. Similarly, some coping strategies, such as the sale of land, migration of whole families, or deforestation, may permanently undermine future food security. CVA can reduce these impacts.
Assessment and identify community environmentally unsustainable coping strategies. Design CVA to reduce/prevent resorting to these strategies.
Assess and mitigate the environmental impacts of cash or voucher activities.
Ensure CVA is not funding unsustainable or illicit environmentally damaging coping mechanisms. Restricted cash vouchers may help mitigate this.
Assess drivers of migration and adapt CVA to address them.
Ensure Minimum Expenditure Baskets assess natural resources needed and source them sustainably.
Conduct an assessment with the community to identify environmentally unsustainable coping strategies. Design CVA interventions to discourage or prevent the need to resort to these harmful strategies.
If planning cash or food for work activities, ensure you assess the potential negative or positive environmental impacts and amend the activities so they support the environment, support sustainability of natural resources and ecosystems whilst also supporting people’s recovery.
Ensure cash or vouchers programming is not funding unsustainable or illicit environmentally damaging coping mechanisms. To mitigate this risk, the use of restricted cash vouchers could be considered to ensure the provision of environmentally sustainable, non-polluting livelihoods products.
CVA can be designed to seek to reduce people’s need to resort to migrating for livelihoods. It can also be designed to encourage sustainable waste management such as increased cash or voucher benefits for returning packaging or containers. CVA can be used to encourage the use of sustainably sourced or recycled construction materials.
Minimum Expenditure Baskets developed for use in CVA should take account of environmental resources people use for cooking, health, and livelihoods activities and plan to provide or support people in finding their own sustainable alternatives.
Include environmental and sustainability criteria into vouchers’ suppliers’ selection.
When farmers use vouchers or seed fairs, encourage them to buy seeds from local suppliers. Farmers may prefer traditional varieties which are adapted to the local context. These will definitely be available at a lower price, meaning they get more seeds for the same voucher value.
Train people and encourage composting of biodegradable waste for use as fertilizer.
Cash assistance brings both opportunities and new complexities in the interaction between humanitarian relief and environmental impacts. Negative impacts may emerge when markets and local supply chains are unregulated and unsustainable or when the type of goods and services procured inadvertently increase risk. It may be necessary to put conditionalities or restrictions on CVA if negative environmental impacts are observed. These could include people using the cash to buy equipment or transport to unsustainably deplete natural resources for income. Unrestricted cash and cash from re-selling distributed food or food purchased with vouchers may be used to fund unsustainable or illicit environmentally damaging coping mechanisms.
Number of food/cash-based activities related to preservation and restoration of the environment.
Mitigation of environmental damages
This does not require additional effort or resources to those already needed for programme design.