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
Water extraction for water consumption and hygiene activities
Estimation of water usage requirements

Estimation of water usage requirements


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

The natural water cycle supports the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth. Human interventions within this natural cycle, such as water extraction, climate change, and construction of impermeable surfaces, can have negative impacts on the natural water resource, such as causing water scarcity, water stress, and water pollution. For example, if there is less water available locally within the cycle, groundwater resources can diminish unsustainably. In addition, changes in rainfall patterns can impact people and ecosystems by altering the availability of water throughout the year.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

People with chronic health conditions (including HIV/AIDS) and disabilities often have more complicated hygiene requirements which may increase their usage requirements. Environmental factors can then further increase these usage requirements, for example, due to dehydration, or because a very dusty environment makes it harder to keep health items such as catheters clean.


Environmental impact categories

Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion
Soil erosion
Increased drought / flood

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Potential for unsustainable use of water resources.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Water usage requirements should be assessed for current and medium-term population and industry projections. Water abstraction, whether from aquifers, rivers, or other surface water sources, if not properly assessed and planned for, can become an unsustainable activity, harming ecosystems and ultimately the ability of people to live in an area.


Summary of environmental activities

Consult local and national government and review population growth figures against available water resources to inform the sizing of water abstraction facilities.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Consult local and national government and review population growth figures against available water resources to inform the sizing of water abstraction facilities.

Consider climatic factors such as current and projected temperature, humidity, and precipitation patterns as well as levels of dust and air pollution. Consideration should also be given to local water use including by industry, agriculture, fishing, schools, hospitals, and domestically for food preparation.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

The humanitarian response to the Darfur crisis included the unmonitored cutting of trees and the abstraction of groundwater. Water was abstracted from aquifers made from fissured basalt geology. Some years into the response water supply quantities were reduced. Ultimately Humanitarian Actors installed groundwater monitoring and telemetry and managed abstraction more sustainably. This reduced rates of over-abstraction, however alternative sources were ultimately required to support displaced communities.


Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Water usage plan compiled

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time for consultation and research, and amending designs.

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