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 sanitation
Faecal Sludge management (FSM)



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

Water pollution can affect people’s health. Bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases like typhoid, cholera, encephalitis, poliomyelitis, hepatitis, skin infection, and gastrointestinal diseases can spread through polluted water increasing the probabilities of overloading the capacity of excreta management systems due to diarrhoeal and vomiting cases. This impacts efficiency and capacity (that is increased amount of excreta generated due to health burdens).

In addition, proximity between water tubewells and latrines, soil porosity, ground water table, topography, drainage, and stability of slopes, may result in pollution of wells from surface water, sewage, sludge, solid waste leachates, chemical spills, etc and subsequent sickness or disease.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

People who have less power in communities are usually those who are served by the worst infrastructure. Septic tank and cesspit overflows, storm spillages, and failure of sewerage networks are more likely to impact the poor and vulnerable greatest.


Environmental impact categories

Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Soil erosion

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Soil and water pollution due to faecal sludge spills or leakages.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Because of the presence of organic, inorganic, and microbial pollutants in sludge and wastewater, it is necessary to have precautions when handling this type of waste, because it can be harmful to people’s health and the environment.


Summary of environmental activities

Carry out desludging and sludge handling activities with precautions to avoid spills or leaks.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Create a sludge management plan or guidelines with clear steps and instructions for handling sludge and waste, especially for desludging activities in order to avoid accidents that could lead to spills or leakages in the handling process.

If desludging is carried out manually, train people and provide protection gear that can be safely washed and reused. If doing so, determine safe ways for the equipment to be washed and for waste disposal and treatment. Cleaning materials may contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment or by-products may form that will have damaging impacts.

Use of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) is essential for safe desludging and transport of FS and a sanitation plan is required.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

In Bangladesh, there has been insufficient capacity to treat sewage and septage, and a lack of capacity to remove and treat sludge from sewage treatment facilities. This has led to much sewage being insufficiently treated and ground water pollution. This is being addressed with the gradual provision of water supply networks.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Guidelines or plans or safe extraction and handling of sludge are created and shared with the population

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time to develop desludging plans; money to procure desludging equipment and to fund or build faecal sludge management facilities and for PPE.

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