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.

back to activity

VEHA - Field Implementation Guidance

Procurement (Mobilisation)
Best value for money (BVM) interventions
Market assessment

Market assessment


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

Market assessment helps determine which elements of markets are functioning and which elements need repair, strengthening, or temporary alternatives whilst markets recover.

Failure to map markets can cause protraction of humanitarian crises and associated environmental stresses. Where markets fail, people are often forced into environmentally unsustainable coping mechanisms.

If markets are not operating normally, people may not be able to access or afford food, and sales/purchasing will reduce. This may force people into non-viable coping mechanisms such as unsustainable use of local environmental resources to meet household needs and to raise additional income.

Reduced crop yields and reducing the availability of natural resources in some areas usually result in higher food prices and reduced household income for people whose livelihoods we are trying to support due to the potential increase in damage to agricultural production.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Recognizing the role that women play in supporting established markets and helping them to take an active role in identifying potential environmental impact and coping mechanisms.

Support and open markets that benefit particularly women addressing their specific needs and interests.


Environmental impact categories

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

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Environmentally unsustainable coping mechanisms often include:

· Cutting of trees and other flora for sale to meet market demand
· Hunting of animals, birds, and insects for food
· Scavenging for wild crops, honey, etc damaging ecosystems
· Over abstraction of water resources to meet household needs
· Additional air pollution from transportation of items not produced locally for markets or for humanitarian needs.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

People do not want to deplete the natural resources within their local environment if they have alternatives.

When markets fail, many people are forced to rely on natural resources to survive. Environmentally unsustainable coping mechanisms often include cutting of trees to use as firewood, making charcoal, use for construction or sell in local markets; stripping other vegetation for sale to meet livelihood deficits, for food or as herbal remedies for family sickness; hunting of animals, birds, and insects for food, depleting their numbers, sometimes causing local extinctions; scavenging for wild crops, honey, etc damaging ecosystems; over-abstraction of water resources to meet household needs, often leading to sickness if water is contaminated.

Market attempts to recover are likely to include additional air pollution from transportation of items not produced locally. Humanitarian response will add to this pollution from importing food and non-food items.


Summary of environmental activities

Environmental mapping of natural resources, fragile ecosystems, environmental hazards, pollution

Ensure humanitarian activities do not push people into harmful coping mechanisms

Gather environmental information from local environmental specialists

Community participator mapping of markets and environmental linkages, including observed environmental changes prior to, during, and since the crisis

Assess all planned humanitarian interventions not just your organisation

Ensure market mapping identifies what is needed, available, its quality, and include assessment of its environmental impact

Minimum expenditure baskets (MEB), including mapping where items can be sourced sustainably, as locally as possible to support local markets.

Design livelihood response activities to meet local consumption needs sustainably

Ensure livelihoods responses include protection and restoration of the environment

Assess the sustainability of small animal livestock projects

Work with the WASH sector to monitor, protect and replenish local water resources, Identifying ways for livelihoods to conserve and capture, and re-use water.

Assess pollution from market and humanitarian response items and support the production of local alternatives.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Map and analyse local markets to understand what is needed, available, its quality, and include assessment of its environmental impact.

Ensure that procurement practices and organisational purchasing power do not negatively affect local businesses or else impact market prices or product availability. This includes ensuring that imported goods and services do not unnecessarily compete with locally available alternatives. Where feasible, conduct a market assessment prior to preparing product specifications.

Assess functioning and environmental sustainability of local market items. Support traders in procuring more environmentally sustainable, less polluting, reusable, lower packaging, preferably locally produced items.

Define the specification of goods and services based on market (local/international) availability and content using understandable, clear descriptions.

Involve people requiring assistance in the specification of goods and services. Consider whether procurement activities could cause market disruption.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Humanitarian agencies responding to the south east asia 2005 tsunami found that materials forecasts were difficult to make and suppliers couldn’t meet demand. They tried changing approaches and incentivising affected populations to source their own shelter, food, and NFI materials.

This led to the faster provision of items but also led to significant negative environmental impacts. This resulted in responders sharing databases of affected people and support given, and coordination of procurement.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

In data interpretation, environmental criteria are included.

Programme design include environmental criteria based on findings of the market analysis

Activity Status
Very high
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

This will not require additional resources to the ones planned for the existing market analysis process. However, this requires the manager to look at their analysis through an environmental lens.

Next guidance:

Market support
to top
icon-menu icon-close icon-account icon-arrow icon-down icon-back icon-pointed-arrow icon-left icon-up icon-bookmark icon-share twitter facebook2 printer envelope icon-close-alt icon-top icon-loading icons / login