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

Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH)
Access to sanitation
Faecal Sludge management (FSM)
Management of excreta containment facilities

Management of excreta containment facilities


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

Water pollution can affect people’s health. Bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases like typhoid, cholera, encephalitis, poliomyelitis, hepatitis, skin infection, and gastrointestinal diseases can spread through polluted water increasing the probabilities of overloading the capacity of excreta management systems due to diarrhoeal and vomiting cases. This impacts efficiency and capacity (that is increased amount of excreta generated due to health burdens).

In addition, proximity between water tubewells and latrines, soil porosity, ground water table, topography, drainage, and stability of slopes, may result in pollution of wells from surface water, sewage, sludge, solid waste leachates, chemical spills, etc and subsequent sickness or disease.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

People who have less power in communities are usually those who are served by the worst infrastructure. Septic tank and cesspit overflows, storm spillages and failure of sewerage networks are more likely to impact the poor and vulnerable greatest.


Environmental impact categories

Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Soil and water pollution due to faecal sludge spills and leakages from containment facilities.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Containment structures or facilities are one of the most important elements to consider in the excreta management chain because they host the elements that are harmful to humans and the environment in large volumes. Due to the amounts of waste they can contain, the risks of pollution of the surrounding environment and to human and animal health, are significant.


Summary of environmental activities

Design and implement effective safety procedures for excreta containment facilities to avoid or clean up any leaks or spills and prevent disease spread from wastewater or sludge

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

When carrying out desludging containment activities in pits, vaults, or tanks, determine, document, and train people in the safest way to implement that activity for both the people involved in the process and the surrounding environment.

Consult local communities regarding their usual practices regarding the interaction with containment facilities and seek to identify any potential health or environmental risks. Where risks are identified, work with community members to jointly develop safer alternatives that are accepted by the users, and therefore likely to be adhered to, and also prevent possible damage to the environment.

Containment units should be appropriately sized to ensure sufficient capacity for the life span of the latrine. Improperly sized facilities will not have sufficient time for sewage decomposition, which risks overflow and may lead to lack of capacity and early decommissioning. Disposal of faecal sludge without treatment can have significant human and environmental health consequences. There are technologically appropriate alternatives where there are no treatment plants. The end-product of treatment is a source of nutrients, and can usually be reused in agriculture.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

In Bangladesh, there has been insufficient capacity to treat sewage and septage, and a lack of capacity to remove and treat sludge from sewage treatment facilities. This has led to much sewage being insufficiently treated and ground water pollution. This is being addressed with the gradual provision of water supply networks.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Percentage of containment facilities that are properly design and managed

Risks regarding containment facilities are reduced for both users and the environment

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and money to design and implement effective safety procedures for excreta containment facilities, to avoid or clean up any leaks or spills.

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