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.
Accountability to communities is fundamental to the Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS) and for gathering important feedback on whether shelter activities are making people more or less environmentally resilient.
Accountability mechanisms can help to understand and respond to community concerns regarding natural resources, environmental fragilities, and hazards.
Feedback can be used to change or strengthen the environmental sustainability of livelihood activities. Feedback can also be used to inform the content of IEC resources on developing more environmentally sustainable livelihood responses.
Involving and being accountable to the affected communities by following inclusive, participatory, and accountable procedures is also standard good practice in information management at response or local level. This includes careful data protection based on principles of confidentiality, privacy, and security and at all times ensures the protection of the displaced population.
Members of the humanitarian response should be trained by gender, protection, and GBV specialists so that everyone knows their role and good practices.
Training should ensure that team members understand appropriate ways to engage with communities, possible sensitivities they might face, and how to respond to them. This also allows for practical awareness and effective communication with disabled persons.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Increased intensity of storms/hurricanes
Engaging with stakeholders using a range of communication channels will be important for reaching diverse parts of the community, through multiple channels. The channels of communication should be chosen taking into consideration culture climate contexts, available resources, accessibility to information, and environmental impacts.
Some practical and behavioral factors may be difficult to address through communication and may require more experiential learning, such that which may occur in a workshop or training where participants get to practice a construction technique and receive feedback. Preferences for and access to communication channels may also be different by ethnicity, socio-economic status, geographical differences, and gender.
Community accountability and engagement improve understanding of environmental vulnerabilities, hazards, risks, impacts, and dependencies. This includes:
Understanding nutritional needs and potential environmental impacts or vulnerabilities; understanding what resources people lack and what they have available; assessing any conflict over resources; understanding community environmental dependencies and fragilities; learning about environmental coping strategies and recovery strategies; understanding existing sources and causes of pollution and pollution causing behaviors; obtaining feedback about the impacts of nutritional behaviors on the environment; feedback about environmental hazards and risks; feedback about the changing impacts of climate change on livelihoods.
Establishing clear communication channels and getting the local community and affected populations engaged in your response activities will enable your organization to better understand their needs and how they intend on recovering from the crisis. This assessment should also allow your organization to anticipate resource-scarcity conflicts, propose mitigation and prevention strategies and optimize the resources available, both human and environmental. Moreover, local community engagement should facilitate accountability through the response, as continuous engagement from the locals will contribute to the overall success of recovery efforts.
Community engagement through effective communication will likely play a significant role in addressing the environmental impacts and effects, defined earlier on the onset of the response.
By involving the affected community in mitigation and prevention activities also raises individual and group accountability, which in turn adds credibility to the sector response and the managing agency.
Accountability to communities and engagement using a range of communication channels creates many opportunities to understand environmental vulnerabilities, hazards, risks, and impact and to use this information to strengthen the environmental sustainability of shelter activities and also strengthen the ways in which communities engage with and protect the environment upon which they depend. This includes understanding what the resources people are using for nutrition; assessing what environmental resources are available and being used (firewood, water, plants, animals,) and identifying any potential resource-scarcity conflicts; understanding community environmental dependencies and fragilities; learning about community environmental coping strategies and recovery strategies, such as unsustainable use of natural resources; understanding existing sources and causes of pollution and pollution causing behaviors/social norms; feedback about environmental hazards and risks communities are facing; feedback about the changing impacts of climate change.
Accountability and community engagement mechanisms should be designed to include environment, including:
· After identifying the priority environmental risks and impacts, develop community-led projects which complement the Nutrition response;
· Choose the most adequate communication method(s) to relay everyday information to the affected community, taking into consideration of resource management and disposal;
· Ensure that the chosen communication channel(s) are widely accessible by different groups of the community; for Example should radio be the chosen method, ensure every household has a radio, or develop a camp-wide mechanism so that radio towers can be heard.
This will directly impact your resource management and mobilization activities, as a certain choice of communication channel will imply buying more radios, printing more papers and pamphlets, etc.
· Establish a schedule for in-place group activities and choose environmental themes to be discussed in some of these activities. While some environmental impacts may not have been estimated on the onset of the response, they can be developed and such conversation circles can act as a feedback mechanism;
· Develop training and workshops for the agency’s staff and the local community on the environmental risks and impacts identified to orient daily behavior regarding soil preservation, water consumption, energy-saving benefits, etc.
· Define communication and accountability mechanisms that include environment.
· Consultation on community environmental coping strategies, traditional knowledge, and recovery strategies;
· Consultation on sources and causes of pollution and pollution causing behaviors / social norms. Using these to inform the design of awareness campaigns and behavior change practices where appropriate
Accountability and community engagement mechanisms should be designed to include environment, including assessing people’s nutritional needs during a crisis and collating information on how this may impact or be vulnerable to the environment, so that this information can be used to strengthen the environmental sustainably of nutrition response and ensure communities are left more resilient to environmental hazards.
Ensure that chosen communication channels are widely accessible by different groups of the community; For example, should radio be the chosen method, ensure every household has a radio or develop a camp-wide mechanism so that radio towers can be heard. This will directly impact your resource management and mobilization activities, as a certain choice of communication channel will imply buying more radios, printing more papers and pamphlets, etc.
Understand the resources people are using for coping during malnutrition; assess what environmental resources are available for use (firewood, water, plants, animals,) to understand whether this use can be sustainable or alternative sources should be sought. This should also allow your organization to anticipate resource-scarcity conflicts, propose mitigation and prevention strategies and optimize the resources available, both human and environmental; understand community environmental dependencies and fragilities at different locations and surrounding areas; learn about community environmental coping strategies and recovery strategies, such as dependencies on vulnerable flora or fauna, such as the capture and sale of endangered species, dependencies on cutting timber or abstracting other resources to supplement household income; understand existing sources and causes of pollution and pollution causing behaviors / social norms such as waste piling and burning, open defecation, slash and burn land clearance.
Seek feedback about environmental hazards and risks communities are facing such as landslides, floods, droughts, disease spread, crop pests, and diseases. Develop community-led projects to address priority environmental risks, which complement the nutrition response; feedback about the changing impacts of climate change such as increased temperature extremes, rainfall intensity, or storm intensity.
The Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA) Toolkit created by the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) was designed to assist National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other organizations to assess, design, implementing, monitor, and evaluating community engagement and accountability activities in support of programmes and operations. This toolkit should be used in conjunction with IFRC’s CEA Guide.
The CEA Toolkit contains 22 different tools to address community engagement, communication, and accountability in crisis contexts, including training, Q&A templates, communication channels analysis, feedback and strategy guidance kits, and a code of conduct.
The CEA Toolkit aims to enable the humanitarian organization and actors to listen and respond accordingly to community feedback, provide information as a form of aid, and support communities in speaking out and calling for their needs.
The ultimate goal of the CEA Toolkit is to place the affected communities at the centre of the humanitarian response.
Through these tools, CEA intends to build more resilient communities, improve acceptance and trust, increase individual and collective accountability and ownership and empower communities to drive the humanitarian and development programs in their community.
The full Toolkit and isolated tools can be downloaded directly from the IFRC website.
% of local communities participation in in-place training and workshops;
# of sector activities led by affected communities
# of tensions/conflicts and disruptions resulting from sector activities being identified and solved during the project life.
Mitigation of environmental damage;
Communications channels and constant flow of information between humanitarian respondents and local communities;
In-place technical workshops and training, to booster community engagement;
Information exchange sessions;
Humanitarian capacity to assess best methods of community engagement, identify obstacles to the general surveying of the affected population;
Basic resources as far as information dissemination are concerned;
Establishment of a feedback cycle and mechanism to monitor response success throughout its lifecycle.