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

Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH)
Access to water for human consumption
Ensuring appropriate water quality for water consumption and hygiene activities
Delivery of firewood, fuel, or items for boiling water

Delivery of firewood, fuel, or items for boiling water


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

All communities need access to safe drinking water. If water is not treated at the point of delivery, it will require treatment. Most communities do not have water treatment facilities at home and so significant amounts of deforestation are likely to occur where water has to be boiled before consumption and alternative fuels are not available.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

For example, women and children are usually the most exposed to smoke from wood burning in the home, therefore have a greater chance of respiratory problems. Women may have to gather firewood, therefore be at greater risk of attack by people or animals. People with disabilities or chronic medical conditions may not be able to access fuel.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion
Increased drought / flood

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Deforestation and air pollution due to tree cutting as firewood for boiling water.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Boiling water for disinfection consumes limited natural resources and can also contribute to air pollution. This is a particular concern if wood or charcoal is used as this exacerbates deforestation, or if plastic or other toxic materials are used that can have negative respiratory health impacts.


Summary of environmental activities

Promote alternatives for water treatment that do not cause deforestation, or provide beneficiaries with efficient stoves

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Only promote boiling water as a form of treatment where the likelihood of using firewood (deforestation) is low. For example, where there is no other fuel source or another way to make water safe, coordinate with the NFI sector to also deliver efficient stoves.

If wood is the only option, promote reforestation with fast-growing and high-yield biomass native trees. However, reforestation initiatives are notoriously prone to failure because they require many years of care and support to be successful.

Filtration or solar disinfection systems can be promoted as more environmentally sustainable alternatives if water testing demonstrates these options are sufficient.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Many communities whose water sources are polluted, resort to cutting treas or creating charcoal in order to boil water to clean water. This would not be necessary if water was protected from pollution. If water was protected then the cutting of trees for charcoal and boiling water would be reduced substantially.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

% of households trained about purification techniques that do not cause environmental damage, including how to use them

% of households using water purification technology that does not cause environmental damage

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and money for procuring, distributing efficient water filters/home water treatment, and for training affected populations in their use, maintenance, and safe water storage.

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