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 - Livelihoods
Strategic Planning - Livelihoods
Coordination - Livelihoods

Livelihoods – Coordination


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

Food Security and Livelihoods 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 household income.

Provisioning, Recovery, Strengthing, Diversifying, and Protecting livelihoods requires a strong assessment of the local environment, natural resources, markets, people’s skills, and capacities. Livelihoods have a significant impact on the environment and this can always be reduced or improved.

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 a 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 a Nutrition response, you or your organization might be one of many working together. Establishing committees based on the subject area of response sector can help to ensure a high level of participation in the management to deliver aid to those who are most in need and share the environmental, financial, and resource burden. An effective committees system should 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.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

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.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Coastal erosion
Climate Change
Natural Resource Depletion
Saltwater intrusion
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Water depletion

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

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 environment as a multisector cross-link will enable coordinated environmentally sustainable outcomes.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Programming activities that do not properly manage or encourage and facilitate proper management of waste streams, pollution, or environmental sanitation can also lead to public health risks through vector transmission and/or pollution. Effective management can only be achieved through cross-sector coordination.

Different actors will have different environmental knowledge and skillsets that can be coordinated to jointly strengthen the environment.

Humanitarian actors may not yet have taken time to develop environmental policies and good practices. Issues of waste, unsustainable use of natural resources, and importing unneeded/ unwanted. Coordination enables them to support each other in this.

Lack of environmental humanitarian standards, good practices, and regulations may exacerbate existing environmental stresses and lead to delayed humanitarian assistance.

Lack of coherent connected solid waste management, leading to pollution, stockpiling, burning, air pollution, and disease spread.


Summary of environmental activities

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 the 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 and site selection with the Nutrition cluster. Include environment as an agenda point in cluster meetings.

10. Involve environmental actors in coordination mechanisms and coordinate to ensure agencies undertake environmental impact assessments and share findings for different types of sites.

11. Develop joint sustainable plans for procurement.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Livelihoods coordination between different humanitarian actors, regarding environmental sensitivities, potential impacts, and sustainability can be strengthened through the following activities:

Engage with the Food Security and Livelihoods 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 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.

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.

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.

Humanitarian Coordination
· Gather documentation on current humanitarian crisis and local context – Identify local/national environmental sources of information/analysis (competent national authorities, university, partners…).

· Cluster coordination diagnosis – ensure at the national and local level, environmental partners are aware of cluster system, requirement and interest to be involved appropriately.

· Participate in inter-sector humanitarian fora – Environment is a cross-cutting theme by excellence. Integrating environment will foster inter-cluster coordination by allowing to grab opportunities to reduce vulnerabilities and foster communities’ resilience.

SAG and TWiG and partners
· Integrate environmental concerns into the Cluster and SAG ToRs (using initial reading on situation context analysis, environmental impacts).

· Integrate environmental concerns into TWiGs ToRs – with specific environmental output(s).

· Identify and meet key partners – Include into your identification environmental local partners (university, ministries but also local associations and civil organisation).

· Community consultation and participation is a key part of environmental management, including working with the national and state governmental authorities. Civil society organisations including

Universities and local NGOs should be consulted, promoted and their capacities enhanced. People in these organisations have invaluable knowledge and skill in the management of the local environment and will be responsible for building the systems for equitable sustainable management in the future.

Work plan and strategy
· Develop environmental key messages to be included in the fact sheet (refer to communication and accountability sub-activity)–using initial assessments findings.

· Define and integrate environmental criteria for Sector-specific activities and use them to develop the related standards (refer to activity by sub-sectors).

· Integrate Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) into your detailed assessments (refer to Conducting surveys and research sub-activity)

· Environmental indicators into technical documents are systematised and reported into HRP with specific outputs in standard funding cycles.

· Define key environmental sensitivity messages to be included in flash appeal (refer to resources mobilisation sub-activity)

· Define environmental information to be collected and report on (including template and format into Sector Cluster Information Management and tools)

· Integrate environment into PDM tools, Reports, and analysis (refer to Monitoring and evaluation activity)

· Ensure long-term environmental impact, mitigation, and prevention strategies are included in the gap analyse.

· Environment is considered into hazards definition of contingency planning with impact and risk definition together with mitigation, prevention measures.

Coordination Team/meetings

· Ensure environment is on the agenda of coordination meetings – present outcomes and outputs to monitor sector activities environmental impact

· Share good practices in enhancing environment as a sector result.

· Include natural resources management plan into the Strategic Operational Framework together with all workstreams of the cluster.

· When applicable, developed environmental enhancement activities to be incorporated into the day-to-day business, such as crop planting activities, development of sustainable waste management systems, establishing a Recycling, Reuse and Repurpose system within the affected community, etc.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

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.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

# of agencies having conducted environmental impact assessments to address Livelihoods’ issues.

# of partnership developed between Food-Security sector agencies/NGO and local environmental recognised actors.

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Environmental enhancement

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Involvement and partnerships with local NGOs and actors, with prior experience in sector responses in the areas;

Human capital and other resources should be designated for desk-based secondary data collection and research;

Humanitarian response leaders should make an effort to build a relationship with national and regional authorities.

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