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

Enabling activities - Shelter
Strategic Planning - Shelter



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

Weak governance could lead to uncontrolled building, excessive waste, lack of use of sustainable resources; over-abstraction of natural resources, and pollution.

Excessively controlling governance could lead to a lack of permissions that would enable sustainable shelter solutions. This may prevent the use of sustainable construction materials and/or force construction on marginalised land, damaging fragile ecosystems.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Women, children, the elderly, the disabled, people living with chronic health conditions, and people from minorities all have specific needs which are typically exacerbated in situations where governance is weak. This can lead to them being exploited or harmed. They should be consulted and directly involved in the design of shelter activities such as site selection, shelter, and infrastructure design.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Natural resource Depletion
Soil contamination
Water contamination

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

1. Potential for uncontrolled natural resource extraction, deforestation, poaching

2. Potential air, soil, water pollution

3. Potential unsafe industrial, mining, and quarrying practices

4. Possible unplanned construction activities, harming ecosystems and natural resources

5. Risk of poorly managed construction exposing people to environmental hazards

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Lack of effective environmental governance leads to uncontrolled exploitation of the environment and development that does not consider impacts on the environment. This includes:

1. Uncontrolled and unsustainable natural resource extraction, including deforestation; poaching; destruction of habitats

2. Uncontrolled natural resource extraction and organic and solid waste disposal and burning leading to air, soil, and water pollution

3. Unsafe industrial development and industrial processes; poor practice extractive mining and quarrying practices, all-destroying habitats, polluting and harming human health

4. Unplanned construction activities facilitating unplanned development, harming ecosystems and natural resources

5. Risk of poorly managed construction exposing people to new or existing environmental hazards including flood, drought, heatwave, wildfire, landslides, earthquakes


Summary of environmental activities

1a. Support strengthening local governance and prioritise working effectively with local authorities

1b. Ensure your shelter activities are sustainable

2. Develop plans for natural resource procurement or extraction and organic and solid waste disposal

3. Assess sites to ensure you are not exposing relocated people to industrial pollution. Advocate for access to more sustainable land

4. Coordinate with the shelter cluster and local authorities to ensure you do not contribute to unplanned development

5a. Assess potential sites to avoid exposing people to environmental hazards

5b. Negotiate with landowners to construct demonstration shelters

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

1a. Where governance is weak, humanitarian actors should support strengthening governance. Train local authorities and leave capacities installed. Prioritise working effectively with local authorities. Working in parallel, without effective collaboration can weaken them and undermine shelter sustainability

1b. Humanitarian actors should focus on ensuring their activities are sustainable – assessing the potential environmental vulnerabilities and impacts related to their activities. This includes ensuring they are not extracting or consuming natural resources at unsustainable rates

2. Develop effective plans for natural resource procurement or extraction and organic and solid waste disposal, ensuring your activities are not causing air, soil, and water pollution

3. Assess potential camp/settlement locations and ensure you are not exposing relocated people to industrial pollution. Coordinate joint advocacy through the shelter cluster (or other humanitarian coordination mechanisms) for improved permissions, access to more sustainable/less fragile land

4. Coordinate shelter and infrastructure activities with the shelter cluster and local authorities and ensure you do not contribute to unplanned development or harming ecosystems and natural resources

5a. Assess potential settlement sites to ensure you are not exposing contractors, laborers, or communities to new or existing environmental hazards including flood, drought, heatwave, wildfire, landslides, earthquakes. Seek agreement between stakeholders on the humanitarian objective of shelter and reconstruction, to agree on shelter objectives

5b. Negotiate directly with private landowners to construct sustainable demonstration shelters, respecting local laws.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Between 2017-2018, the NFI-Shelter Cluster carried out a project in Bentiu IDP camps, in South Sudan aimed at improving the living conditions in the site
through the use of community-made, fuel-efficient stoves, resulting in better fuel collection and meal preparation practices.

The project focused on increasing the resilience and capacities of the affected populations by using a cash-based modality.

This project was recognized for significant community engagement, and in particular, the role of women as key drivers of its success.

All information was communicated through the radio, community leadership, block leaders, door-to-door visits, posters, and general meetings. Although the selected stove design was already familiar to the affected population, a community-led communication campaign was undertaken to further highlight the associated health and fuel-efficiency gains.

As part of the monitoring and evaluation of the project, a complaints response mechanism was set up at the outset of the project. Information on criteria to qualify for a cash grant after completion of the stove was disseminated through block leaders and construction assistants.

The managing agency trained 10 construction assistants in each block of the camp, of which 98% were women. After this training, the construction assistants were able to provide support, repair, or even build the stove. This represented a potential source of livelihood for the future.
Wider impact: By adopting a community-led approach, the project sought to strengthen resilience and self-sufficiency, engaging in partnership with local leaders and entrepreneurs, as well as other stakeholders such as women and youth.

A.7 / SOUTH SUDAN 2017–2018 / CONFLICT (IDP)


Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

# of shelter activities local government are consulted on

# of local authority trainings/support on building their shelter, planning, and infrastructure governance capacity

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time for assessing additional potential environmental impacts, hazards, and fragilities in locations where governance is weak. Additional time for greater levels of assessment, coordination, advocacy, and building capacities of local authorities and engaging more closely with local community groups

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