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

Technical assistance - Shelter project management (CCCM)
Settlement management
Management of self-settled camps

Management of self-settled camps


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

Self settled camps can be established in environmentally pristine environments, in war or disaster damaged urban areas, within public buildings or large disused private buildings or factories, or within public or private land such as parks, sports grounds, farmers fields, or even in very marginalised lands such as river flood area. All of these settlement types risk negative impacts to flora and fauna and human health; potentially expose people to environmental hazards; risk depleting natural resources such as forests and water; and risk causing air, water and soil pollution.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Talk with national authorities and other actors to make agreements to assign appropriate land and occupancy rights for temporary camp settlements and resolve all disputes arising from the appropriation of land.

Ensure that the needs of women and men are represented with respect to the location of camps and in all agreements for access to sustenance farming land and use of local resources, including local markets, water, and forest products.

Map the camp, allowing the camp management agency to know where individuals with specific needs are located within the camp, enabling better targeting of resources and services. Ensure this information is held confidentially.

Develop women’s and men’s knowledge and skills so they can conserve and develop the environment and gain sustainable livelihoods. Ensure that all women and men are given equal access to and control over resources and management of basic community-based services.

Men and women commonly use some natural resources in different ways. A gender distinction can also be made with regards to roles and responsibilities: men are frequently responsible for clearing ground or preparing the soil for planting, while women might have a greater role in caring for crops than men. Children, boys, and girls, also have distinct roles and tend to exploit certain natural resources in different ways.

Furthermore, decision-making positions and powers can be traditionally reserved for men and the elderly, while women and children can be left out, liming their voice and opportunities to address needs. This also applies to PSWN, who not only tend to have limited access to natural resources but can also have limited participation or advocates present in community-led decisions.

In relation to biodiversity and natural resources, taking a gender perspective involves understanding and integrating the relations and differences between men and women into projects. This includes the different roles, rights, and opportunities of men and women concerning access, use, management, and conservation of natural resources. It also involves considering the different ways in which environmental degradation affects men and women.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Soil erosion

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

1. Inappropriate site selection harming flora, fauna, and ecosystems

2. Camp settlement creating waste, pollution, and spreading disease

3. Site establishment and operation unsustainably depleting natural resources, and potentially causing conflict with existing/adjacent communities over natural resources

4. Establishment and operation causing air, water, and soil pollution

5. Weather variation exposing people to extreme temperatures, wildfires, and flood or drought

6. Risk of harm from environmental hazards; potential building collapse; lack of washing and sanitation facilities

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

1. Inappropriate site selection can harm local flora, fauna, and fragile ecosystems through polluting activities, blocking natural watercourses and drains, and poor practice waste disposal, potentially irreversibly harming endangered species and fragile ecosystems

2. The process of occupying self-settled camps can create waste, pollution and spread disease

3. Site establishment and operation can unsustainably deplete natural resources, including leading to conflict with host or adjacent communities over access to and use of natural resources

4. Establishment and operation can cause air, water and soil pollution and create disease vectors

5. Daily or seasonal weather variation may expose people to extreme temperatures, wildfires and flood or drought

6. Poor site selection can put people at risk of harm from environmental hazards such as flooding, landslides, earthquakes; at risk of collapse of unsafe buildings; and unsafe from disease spread where washing and sanitation facilities are insufficient


Summary of environmental activities

1. Support communities in safe campsite location selection and potential to safely remain in their original location

2. Establish camp representative groups for camp coordination and management including waste management, pollution, and disease. Provide related humanitarian support activities

3. Plans for sustainable sourcing and management of natural resources. Facilitate inter-community dialogues

4. Plan to reduce air, water, and soil pollution and disease spread

5. Map weather variation, strengthen shelters, and provide relevant NFIs

6. Advocate for settlement relocation where people and environment are at undue risk

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

1. Engage with communities at risk of relocation and support them in carefully identifying and selecting the most beneficial / least harmful location for the camp. Assess whether communities can safely remain in their original location, without exposure to unacceptable hazards or risks such as earthquakes, floods, and landslides

2. Where camps are already self-settled, engage with community members to establish camp representative groups and to establish camp coordination and management mechanisms. Support these groups in developing waste management plans and in understanding and mitigating potential sources of pollution and spread disease. Provide humanitarian support activities to address these issues

3. Establish operation and maintenance plans and include plans for the sustainable sourcing and management of natural resources. Facilitate inter-community dialogues to understand and address concerns over competition for resources

4. Plan to avoid or mitigate air, water, and soil pollution and disease spread within camp operation and maintenance manuals, procedures, and activities. Provide education programmes on good practice

5. Map daily and seasonal weather variation and strengthen shelters and provide NFIs to support insulation, heating, cooling. Create fire breaks and flood or drought prevention measures/infrastructure

6. Advocate for settlement relocation where people’s health and fragile environments are put at risk. Complete risk assessments of occupied buildings to ensure they are not at risk of collapse; assess washing and sanitation facilities and provide additional where required. Promote awareness of risk and mitigating activities

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

The December 26th earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Banda Aceh damaged or destroyed communities along over 800 km of coastline. The combined hazards destroyed 130,000 houses and damaged an additional 95,000.

A number of hazards, including standing water and mass graves (particularly around Banda Aceh and Meulaboh), and the risk of catastrophic flooding in the future, complicated the site selection process. To determine site suitability, communities engaged in risk mapping to identify all locations that had become unsuitable for future development.

The mapping was coupled with disaster risk reduction strategies to create effective land use plans that addressed future tsunami, storm surge, or flooding risk. Villages identified buffer zones and the availability of evacuation routes and post-disaster meeting points.

For instance, the site assessment in low-lying areas included the identification of nearby hills suitable for protection in the event of a future tsunami-related evacuation. Where such geographic features did not exist, planning regulations called for the construction of public buildings that were capable of providing enough protection for the community in such an event.

Plot-specific assessments were made as well, and investigated structural mitigation options including structural elevation or regarding of the property. In this effort, participatory planning processes were extensively employed in order to develop a shared understanding of site constraints given that those whose property was identified as unsuitable were likely to be dissatisfied with the decision. The assessment also looked at land boundary negotiations, zoning practices (for residential and commercial), and allotments for public space.

Sites were assessed for their suitability (social and geotechnical) for schools, health centers, shops, market places, roads, and other community features. To assess the site for other services and features, the community capitalized on existing expertise or found partners with the desired capability (e.g. government agencies, humanitarian organizations). Planners did find site assessment to be time-intensive and complicated given the technical requirements. Also, it was determined that detailed physical planning was needed for each plot to ensure that the footprint of the house itself and any service or utility improvements would be compatible.

· Community involvement in risk mapping can improve their effectiveness
· Shelter recovery planning should incorporate future land use plans
· Needs assessments must consider boundary negotiations, zoning practices, and
· Set-asides for public space
· Long- term shelter needs assessments may be time and resource-intensive

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Decreased exposure to environmental and climatic risks and hazards on site. Increased implementation of strategies selected in order to prevent possible environmental damage.

Percentage of activities in the management of shelters that considered environmental complications

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Environmental enhancement

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Field assessments as well as coordination/liaisons with adjacent communities to assess site hazards and risks as well as determine the extent of existing environmental implications if any.

Additional time to determine best practices on how to mitigate or adapt any environmental hazards or risks identified on-site.

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