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.
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.
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?
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Impact on wellbeing / mental health
Air, soil, and water pollution from improper solid waste
management; disease spread; visual intrusion; unpleasant odor. Potential blockage of drains and watercourses.
Potential disease spread from improper handling, management/treatment of food waste.
Potential to reduce solid waste and pollution and build commercial level recycling-based livelihoods.
Poorly managed solid waste can cause direct air, soil, and water pollution from waste burning; stockpiling decomposition and leachates entering the soil; poor landfill practices; and waste entering watercourses. Dumping/landfill, incineration, composting, and recycling have negative impacts on the environment.
Disposal of solid waste to landfills damages ecosystems and generates harmful gases and leachates which pollute the air, water, and soil and affect the health of humans, flora, and fauna. Disposal to landfills or to the ground surface creates a form of land-use change, altering the habitat of flora and fauna. The emission of toxic chemicals from many products used by institutions such as hospitals and schools has a more acute impact on the health of people, flora, and fauna. The most hazardous of these wastes—hospital, electronic, and industrial hazardous wastes—can be released directly to the environment if dumped or burned openly.
Piled or poorly managed solid waste can harbor disease vectors and create an unpleasant visual intrusion and unpleasant odors that affect the quality of people’s lives.
Poorly managed solid waste has the potential to block drains and watercourses, causing backflow, sedimentation, flooding, and direct water pollution.
Food waste that is not properly separated, handled, composted or bio digested, or safely buried can cause disease spread.
There is always potential to reduce environmental impacts through reducing solid waste through amending institutional behaviors and suppliers’ packaging and distribution; and the potential to separate waste and identify items for re-use, repurposing, return, or recycling. Solid waste can be used to contribute to recycling-based commercial livelihoods.
Institutional and community awareness-raising in the negative impacts of solid waste and in waste separation, re-use, repurposing, recycling and home composting; avoiding dumping to land or water; burning; piling; clean-up of waste from the domestic and local environment.
Provide recycling bins where recycling can be implemented.
Provide organic waste composting training or equipment at the household level
Activities to create additional institutional income from waste recycling.
Awareness-raising in the negative impacts of solid waste and in waste separation, re-use, repurposing, recycling and home composting; avoiding dumping to land or water; burning; piling; clean-up of waste from the domestic and local environment.
Provide recycling bins where recycling can be implemented. When providing bins for recycling and for separating organic waste, determine if there are existing plastic containers from the humanitarian operation that can be reused for this purpose. If doing so, give preference to plastic containers with the same colors as any procured ones. Also, print or paint clear visible instructions or symbols regarding what items go in which container to facilitate waste separation.
Provide organic waste composting training or equipment at the institutional level. Assess and investigate the most suitable composting equipment for the collected organic waste at the household level. If this is not possible, assess the potential of community-level composting, ensuring a safe, low-impact location is identified. For example, locating the composting unit downstream of water abstraction points or wells or at an appropriate distance from surface water streams or lakes.
Develop activities to create household livelihoods from waste recycling. These could include cash for work solid waste/crisis waste clean-up.
Consult institutions in designing a waste management plan with their participation in solid waste separation, collection, and recycling. A community-based fee collection system can be introduced. This will provide employment where waste collection services are otherwise absent and the build-up of unhygienic waste is becoming a serious problem. Also, training and skills development in waste recycling and marketing/entrepreneurship should be introduced.
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.
Percentage of institutional waste that is being recycled
Percentage of organic waste being composted
Number of people employed in waste recycling activities
Prevention of environmental damage
Mitigation of environmental damage
Physical items such as bins and paints, organic waste composting equipment such as scoop shovel, spade, pitchfork, aerator, shredders, and chippers