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.
Changes in the environment that people previously or currently live in affects the type of hygiene messages that will be useful for them. For example, if people used to live in a place that had abundant water resources, and the new location is drier, messages should take people’s background into account to teach locally appropriate ways to reduce water consumption and sustainably manage water resources. Additionally, people need to be advised against unmanaged dumping of waste, as contaminants can infiltrate and contaminate surface and/or groundwater.
Hygiene promotion messages need to be customised to take the needs of different groups such as women, girls, people with disabilities, and HIV/AIDS into account and need to be customized for them (for example, some groups might be more dependent or more exposed to certain hazards, such as lactating women and women may use disposable menstrual items that should be disposed of properly). This should be done in order to highlight the relationship that their actions have with the environment. For example, women may use disposable menstrual items that require guidance for proper disposal.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion
Impact on wellbeing / mental health
Waste generation due to unnecessary over production of hygiene promotion information, education and communication materials (such as leaflets, packaging, printed paper…).
When hygiene promotion messages are delivered using approaches or materials that are not necessary or not compatible with the people’s preferences, completely unnecessary waste is created (printed paper or packaging). This will negatively affect the environment through waste in procurement, production, processing, printing – wasting trees, electricity, fossil fuels for transport, and creating waste that creates a burden on already overburdened or sometimes non-existent solid waste management systems.
Consult communities to determine the most effective means of communication of hygiene messages.
Require hygiene promotion staff to explore alternatives to printing leaflets and other printed materials for hygiene messaging and provide robust justification if they propose the use of printed materials. Consider using community theatre, radio, social media, mobile phone mass texting, television, mobile loudspeakers, billboards, murals (lead-free paint), house-to-house campaigns, and other means that minimise production and distribution of leaflets and other printed materials.
When producing communication materials such as leaflets, printed papers, and packaging, take time to determine the most effective ways of communicating messages by consulting and understanding the perception and needs of target people.
Ensure any printed materials are sustainably sourced – select suppliers with environmental policies; require the use of a combination of renewable electricity, recycling of water, use of recycled low bleach use paper, nontoxic vegetable dye inks; efficient transport logistics, minimal packaging – avoiding the use of plastic.
Create recycling or reusing campaigns for those delivered items (they can be recycled or reused in the future). However, be very careful that you do not convey that recycling is good for the environment. Not creating waste in the first place is much better for the environment than creating waste than recycling it can ever be.
Design communications materials based on community preferences at the same time as minimising resources used and waste generated. Ensure printed content is culturally appropriate and contains images of people, places, and items that are familiar to the targeted people.
Adapting hygiene kits based on community preferences can have positive environmental impacts. For example, when Myanmar Red Cross consulted communities on preferences for hygiene items, communities stated that they would prefer to receive metal buckets and fabric dishcloths rather than plastic and paper, so that they could be reused. The organisation spoke to donors and received approval to replace the plastic buckets and paper towels with more durable items. This resulted in less plastic and paper waste, and more durable items for affected communities.
Number of people/percentage of assistance recipients consulted on communication preferences.
Number of materials avoided printing.
Prevention of environmental damage
Mitigation of environmental damage
Given that any effective public health campaign should be developed based on a survey of the most effective means of communicating with the target audience, there should be no significant additional cost implications. Budget normally spent on design and printing could instead be dedicated to social media management, renting mobile loudspeakers or hiring a part-time social media officer.