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

Management of wasting
Micronutrients in Emergencies
Micronutrient supplementation

Micronutrient supplementation


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

Achieving food security and ending hunger requires healthy natural ecosystems and sustainable use of natural resources. Many food-insecure populations bear the consequences of degraded land and forests, scarce water, biodiversity loss, polluted soils, water and air, and unmanaged waste. These environmental factors have impacts on human health and limit the availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability of food.

The loss of agrobiodiversity, coupled with increased access to processed and ultra-processed foods of more limited nutritional value, contributes to the general trend toward the simplification of human diets. Paradoxically, whilst trade in agricultural products has led to increased consumer choice, the homogenization of agricultural crop and livestock production (i.e. reduced varieties, species, or breeds) also limits the nutritional value of food choices available to communities and individuals. The loss of genetic crops and breeds used for food is of particular concern. The steady decline of genetic diversity in agroecosystems resulting from intense selection has been dramatic, affecting not only cultivated plant varieties but also their wild relatives.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Children are most vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies from worms.


Environmental Impact Categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution

Climate change
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural resource depletion
Soil erosion
Visual Intrusion
Cultural acceptance
Impact on wellbeing / mental health
Increased intensity of storms/hurricanes
Increased drought/flood

Summary of Impacts
Summary of Potential environmental impacts
  • Air, soil, water pollution from packaging solid waste piling, burning, or other disposals.
  • Plastic waste degradation and entry into ecosystems, flora, and fauna.
  • Poorly managed/labeled food fortification may result in young children consuming harmful amounts of some vitamins and minerals.
Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Nutritional supplements, cooking equipment, fuel, weighing equipment packing can amount to a significant impact on the environment.
Nutrition supplements often come in plastic containers, which increase volumes of plastic waste.

Food fortification has become an increasingly significant strategy to address gaps in micronutrient intakes in populations with measurable impact in both industrialized and developing countries. While the positive impacts are well recognized there are new concerns in some countries that excessive fortification of foods, outdated nutritional labeling rules, and misleading marketing tactics used by food manufacturers may result in young children consuming harmful amounts of some vitamins and minerals.

Look at the role of industrial fortification and biofortification.


Summary of environmental activities
  • Require suppliers to reduce packaging and provide biodegradable or recyclable packaging and packaging that is made from sustainable sources where possible.
  • Remove all non-essential packaging prior to local distribution.
  • Encourage beneficiaries to bring empty packaging back at future distributions.
Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities
  • Use contractual clauses to ensure suppliers minimise packaging to only packaging that is essential to stop micronutrients spoiling in transit and storage. Give preference to suppliers who can provide biodegradable or recyclable packaging and packaging that is made from sustainable sources. Remove all but the last layer of protective packaging from food supplements prior to distribution. Generally, the packaging of specialised foods and supplements cannot be recycled. If beneficiaries will not return for future consultations, provide advice on how to dispose of the packaging, including recycling options where these exist. If possible, try to tender for supplements that come in biodegradable or compostable packages, if these are available in the local market.
  • If supplements are to be taken home by beneficiaries, encourage beneficiaries to bring empty packaging back when they receive their next batch of supplements, to allow for the distributing agency to take charge of waste management and reduce open littering.
Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

In South Sudan, Humanitarian agencies provided nutritional supplement feeding and found that over time waste was accumulating on land and in watercourses, causing pollution. Agencies responded by setting up feeding centers and removing packaging prior to distribution where possible; providing safe comfortable feeding areas and encouraging their use, followed by encouragement to return all waste packaging prior to leaving the feeding center.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Cases of micronutrient deficiencies are treated according to current best clinical practice

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and budget to negotiate with suppliers and distributors to reduce or improve packaging.

Next guidance:

Minimising harm
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