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.

back to activity

VEHA - Field Implementation Guidance

Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH)
Solid waste management
Solid waste management
Hazardous waste managment

Hazardous waste managment


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

Environmental factors, linked to solid waste management, that can cause or contribute to humanitarian needs or affect humanitarian activities include climate – temperature, humidity, rainfall; flooding; ground and surface water. Variation in these factors affects the demand for and complexity of waste management services. Flooding rivers often transport and deposit materials, including existing solid waste, and creating new solid waste, that then needs to be cleaned up to avoid problems such as creating new vector breeding sites and health problems in nearby populations. Strong wind and storms can also spread rubbish and debris, including from open solid waste piles.

Severe weather conditions may combine with other environmental conditions to generate waste. For example, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes often create large quantities of debris that need to be managed.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

When launching a waste management project, it may be necessary to develop a locally valid classification of waste, taking into account different views of women and men regarding what materials are considered waste and what categories of waste are in use in local discourse and practice. In order to maximize the quality and efficiency of waste management services, it is important to know the needs and challenges of women.

For example, are women-owned enterprises able to generate a high work volume to pay for the higher investment to introduce new technology for recycling?

Do women have equal access to the necessary training?



Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Soil erosion
Visual Intrusion
Cultural acceptance
Impact on wellbeing / mental health

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Air, soil, and water pollution from improper hazardous waste management; disease spread or other health hazards; visual intrusion; unpleasant odor. Potential blockage of drains and watercourses.

Potential to reduce hazardous waste and pollution.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Poorly managed hazardous waste can create air, soil, and water pollution. As hazardous waste often contains dangerous chemicals, minerals, or even explosive characteristics, it can cause harm to people, flora, and fauna, through contamination, poisoning, disease spread, or through creating physical health hazards. As for all solid waste, hazardous waste can also cause visual intrusion, bad odors, and has the potential to block drains and watercourses.

There is always potential to drive behavior change to reduce or clean up hazardous waste and pollution, which will reduce these environmental impacts and benefit the environment.


Summary of environmental activities

Hazardous waste collection services
Waste reception and separation
Hazardous waste treatment/safe disposal
Polluter pays policy and practice
Incentives or penalties
Deposit return schemes
Payment for high-value waste

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Where regulations or their implementation is weak, hazardous waste dumping can be commonplace. Provision of effective hazardous waste reception/collection services and effective waste reception and separation sites are essential in changing this. These facilities may be provided at general solid waste reception sites, or as specialist facilities. They usually require local government to implement them, using a polluter pays funding mechanism, which is typically enforced through the introduction of new laws and penalties alongside public awareness campaigns. Awareness-raising should be provided to households, schools, businesses, and institutions on hazardous waste identification and disposal, including communication about incentives or penalties (fines) to encourage hazardous waste separation and safe disposal.

Incentives can include deposit return schemes and payment for valuable waste such as metals.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Municipal solid waste reflects the culture that produces it and affects the health of the people and the environment surrounding it. Globally, people are discarding growing quantities of waste, and its composition is more complex than ever before, as plastic and electronic consumer products diffuse. Concurrently, the world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate. These trends pose a challenge to cities, which are charged with managing waste in a socially and environmentally acceptable manner.

Effective waste management strategies depend on local waste characteristics, which vary with cultural, climatic, and socioeconomic variables, and institutional capacity. Globally, waste governance is becoming regionalized and formalized. In industrialized nations, where citizens produce far more waste than do other citizens, waste tends to be managed formally at a municipal or regional scale. In less-industrialized nations, where citizens produce less waste, which is mostly biogenic, a combination of formal and informal actors manages waste. Many waste management policies, technologies, and behaviors provide a variety of environmental benefits, including climate change mitigation. Key waste management challenges include integrating the informal waste sector in developing cities, reducing consumption in industrialized cities, increasing and standardizing the collection and analysis of solid waste data, and effectively managing increasingly complex waste while protecting people and the environment.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Increase in safe disposal and treatment of hazardous waste

Activity status
Very high
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time, resources, training, support to ensure effective provision of hazardous waste reception/collection services.

to top
icon-menu icon-close icon-account icon-arrow icon-down icon-back icon-pointed-arrow icon-left icon-up icon-bookmark icon-share twitter facebook2 printer envelope icon-close-alt icon-top icon-loading icons / login