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.
Health cluster coordination aims to support the delivery of a timely, quality, and appropriate response in order to effectively and accountably meet the needs of people affected by humanitarian crises safeguard and improve their health.
Coordination is a critical component of any health response. When planning an intervention, relevant stakeholders must be contacted in order to ensure a harmonized and needs based-response. Discussion points should generally include the team’s intentions, target beneficiaries, type of assistance being provided, and the timeframe for the intervention. Through this exercise, you will identify the environmental risks and begin to design mitigation and prevention strategies, taking into account the capacity and resources available.
The state of the environment, in turn, has a direct bearing on the welfare of communities affected by the crisis. Environmental considerations thus need to be taken into account in almost all aspects of the coordination of humanitarian response. Due to their inherent links with other sectors, environmental issues cannot be dealt with on their own, therefore, environmental guidelines dealing with specific sectors must be used in conjunction with those developed for other sectors. Coordinated planning allows for the formulation of strategic objectives, what needs to be done to meet them, and how much it will cost. This project plan will undoubtedly have environmental impacts, concerning natural and manufactured resources, staff, access to basic services, and more. During this phase, environmental considerations should be integrated by ensuring they are well adapted to the context, well understood, and shared, with the capacity of providing adequate orientation for the whole humanitarian community.
Mainstreaming environment often comes down to how much this is facilitated by coordination. Environmental issues often affect multiple sectors and can therefore be an excellent way to build bridges between sectors and generate and genuinely comprehensive approach to humanitarian needs (for example the links between waste management, livelihoods generation, and renewable energy, or addressing livelihoods or energy needs to reduce protection risks). Identify these links and work across sectors to address them in joined-up strategies;
In the planning phase of health response, you or your organization might be one of many working together. Establishing committees and health teams based on the subject area of the response sector can help to ensure a high level of participation and that aid reaches those who are most in need and shares the environmental, financial, and resource burden. An effective health system should ideally provide access to local knowledge, facilitate the collection of accurate data for the provision of aid, foster community ownership, and empowerment, enable more efficient programme delivery, and ensure that programmes are tailored to local needs and circumstances.
Efficient coordination can also boost the protection against GBV, by identifying the priorities and most vulnerable areas, groups, and sectors of the response program.
Coordination is required to avoid duplication, resource and materials depletion, and unnecessary waste, but also to ensure consistency of response activities and attitudes.
Coordination with other sectors is also essential to ensure that the response meets a broader set of needs than just nutrition.
You might want to consider developing a common set of vulnerability criteria for the selection of beneficiaries (taking into account assessment findings) for sector-related activities. Encourage partners to make criteria and beneficiary selection processes public where possible.
These criteria should be as consistent as possible with the vulnerability criteria developed by other clusters.
Natural resource depletion
Coordinated assessments allow organizations to obtain a more comprehensive and precise picture of needs and gaps and to make more efficient use of available resources.
This is also applicable to the environmental restrictions and limitations the organization may face in the planning stages of a response plan. If multiple or harmonized assessments are taking place simultaneously in overlapping regions, coordination is key to avoid ‘assessment fatigue’ and support the shared monitoring process of information and data.
A holistic approach including the environment as a multisector cross-link will enable coordinated environmentally sustainable outcomes.
Mainstreaming environment often comes down to how much this is facilitated by coordination. This might include:
1. Involve environmental actors in coordination mechanisms and ensure that they understand coordination architecture and mechanisms and their roles and opportunities for engagement therein;
2. Include environment as an agenda point in meetings for other sectors to raise questions or concerns related to environment – do not expect that the one environmental agency in the room should cover the entire issue;
3. Promote consortia between humanitarian and environmental agencies;
4. Promote all cross-cutting themes equally;
5. Include self-evaluations on environmental mainstreaming in reviews of response plans;
6. Make environment a key criterion in country-based pooled funds;
7. Ensure the integration of environment in every stage of the HPC;
8. Request environmental field advisers (e.g. from agencies’ rosters or the Standby Partnership Programme) where specialist support is required.
9. Share information and good practice on environmental sustainability with the Health cluster.
10. Develop joint sustainable plans for procurement.
Health coordination between different humanitarian actors, regarding environmental sensitivities, potential impacts, and sustainability can be strengthened through the following activities:
1. Engage with the Health cluster and share information and action on environmental sustainability including understanding environmental vulnerabilities and hazards. Include environment as an agenda point in meetings for other sectors to raise questions or concerns related to the environment – do not expect that the one environmental agency in the room to cover the entire issue; Involve environmental actors in coordination mechanisms and ensure that they understand coordination architecture and mechanisms and their roles and opportunities for engagement and influence.
2. Develop a cluster solid waste management plan, asking all agencies to sign up for its commitments and share it widely within their organisations. Share this plan with the Nutrition cluster; look for opportunities to align with existing plans from the WASH or Shelter cluster.
3. Build community resilience through increasing the abundance of natural resources, reducing waste and pollution, increasing their knowledge and skills around the environment, and building alternative renewable energy, solid waste management, or other green economy livelihoods.
Work plan and strategy:
Natural disasters and man-made conflicts responsible for the displacement of groups of populations and communities likely require a multisectoral and complex response strategy. The set up of inter-sectoral cluster leads, for example in the 2006 Indonesia earthquake, proved to be overall successful and was able to address the plethora of vulnerabilities and weaknesses faced by the local communities concerning Shelter, WASH, Protection, Nutrition, and others.
Some of the weaknesses of this approach identified by the ERP Progress Review (Clusters “State of Affairs”) Report” OCHA Yogyakarta 27 September 2006” represent learning opportunities.