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

Security of tenure
Security of tenure
Evictions and relocation

Evictions and relocation


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

Tenure is insecure when there is a perceived probability of losing specific rights over land such as the right to live on the land or the right to cultivate the land, graze, fallow, and transfer through sale, rent or inheritance. Rights at risk also include rights to access and manage sacred areas, traditional rights-of-way, forest products, fishing, and hunting. In contrast, the lack of tenure security can lead to free-for-all competition to extract benefits, such as natural resources, over the short term, without consideration of environmental sustainability.

Those who live on, work or own the land make the land management decisions and are in a better position to make decisions around activities or strategies that could reduce and mitigate environmental risks. Land occupants or users at risk of eviction or relocation, cannot prioritise environmental considerations without any decision-making rights and also have other more urgent priorities to address such as where they are going to live or how they will make a living.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Land tenure issues related to the environment are not isolated from tenure issues associated with gender or conflicts. Instead, they co-exist in societies. For example, designing a project to promote community forestry or to improve the livelihoods of pastoralists raises the need to incorporate land tenure practices that promote environmentally sustainable land uses, that ensure access to resources by disadvantaged groups, and that address conflict over the rights to use the land.

Communities that experience land shortages or rapidly increasing land values may be unable or reluctant to prevent male relatives from claiming land over which women, particularly widowed or single women, have rights.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Soil erosion
Noise pollution
Visual Intrusion
Impact on mental health

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

1. Large-scale displacement can contribute to tension between communities, landowners, and authorities.

2. Land tenure negotiations can exacerbate tensions or conflict and create resentment.

3. Humanitarian infrastructure provision may have harmful environmental impacts.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

1. Large-scale displacement, can put pressure on scarce local resources, generating tensions or conflict between communities, landowners, and authorities.

2. Land tenure negotiations can easily stir up or exacerbate existing tensions or conflict and create resentment toward immigrants.

3. The construction of critical infrastructure for humanitarian purposes may do unintended harm (by causing forced evictions or relocations) if site selection and use are not transparent, consensual, and in accordance with applicable laws, customs and standards. As a result, activities or strategies to preserve or protect environmental resources will be affected.


Summary of environmental activities

1. Negotiate strong land tenure arrangements; ensure existing arrangements are not threatened.

2. Negotiate temporary rights for infrastructure and services.

3. Incentivised or recompensed tenant farmers to reduce or avoid environmental degradation.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

1a. Well-planned and negotiated land tenure rules can promote sustainable land use and reduce environmental harm. Projects should ensure that existing, successful land tenure arrangements are strengthened, rather than threatened. Customary tenure patterns can be used to generate legal frameworks, in which local institutions guide the internal division of property within the groups’ territories, including family rights to agricultural fields and rights to grazing, fishing, and forest areas. Often it is recognized that rights to access a particular place or resource may be overlapping, depending on season and/or other factors such as age, gender, lineage, and ritual knowledge.

1b. Use participatory, transparent, and inclusive processes to develop a grounded understanding of tenure rights and responsibilities associated with livelihood strategies of vulnerable populations. Support procedural rights to uphold the capabilities and adaptive capacity of local communities. Respect culture and traditional processes for management and transfer of rights.

2. Temporary rights should be negotiated to provide removable infrastructure and services to reduce long-term negative environmental impacts. Commitments should be put in place for site remediation and improvement after people have relocated.

3. Tenant farmers should be incentivised or recompensed for providing environmental benefits that will prevent long-term land degradation, such as providing incentives for tree conservation or protecting watercourses and sustainable use of other natural resources.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Mapping customary land rights in post-conflict or disaster situations is not without challenges. Access to and control over land is frequently contested and customary claims are often constructed on the basis of social differentiation and inequality (particularly among pastoralists; migrants and indigenous groups; men and women within households and elders and youth). However, in many cases, the participation of rural community members has proven successful in understanding and reaching a stable consensus on existing customary rights.16

Community participation in the presence of all relevant parties, particularly landowners and land users can be an effective means of taking stock of existing land tenure arrangements and identifying beneficiaries for shelter assistance. For example, NRC’s Shelter Programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has cooperated with the Information Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA) Programme to provide building materials to returnees who have reached negotiated agreements through collaborative dispute resolution procedures


Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Actual tenure (type of tenure and experiences of evictions) and perceived tenure security (in the form of fear of eviction)

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Field and desktop research to assess existing tenure security as well as local laws, methods, and rules around land rights.

Additional time, research, and specialization to incorporate programs or strategies for tenure security.

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