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.
When monitored on a systematic basis, indicators can be useful project management and decision-making tools. Monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes of response are important to ensure that the effects sought for were indeed delivered, and to help identify possible negative environmental effects in time to allow for an adjustment of activities. It is a necessary part of ensuring that the principle of Do No Harm is fulfilled. Furthermore, the evaluation will help identify best practices and lessons learned that offer valuable insight for making improvements in future aid efforts.
Monitoring Nutrition response and activities at the national and sub-national levels is necessary to ensure that different actors work efficiently and effectively in established coordination mechanisms, fulfill the core functions, support efficient delivery of relevant services and demonstrate accountability to affected people. Monitoring also ensures that the architecture of coordination responds to changes in the context and in coordination needs.
Monitoring activities will identify, among other aspects, if any environmental risks and threats, first identified in the MIRA or other initial assessment, have been exacerbated, intensified, or reduced throughout the lifecycle of the response.
Monitoring teams should be well trained on identifying links between programme activities and the environment, not all of which will be immediately visible. The humanitarian actors should identify ecosystems and specific natural resources, such as forests or groundwater, that might be at risk and that need to be protected throughout the life of the response. These impacts need to be monitored throughout the different phases of the response, starting from the identification phase in the survey and assessment.
Mounting evidence shows that advancements in gender equality could have a profoundly positive impact on social and environmental well-being. But if not managed properly, environmental projects can actually spur gender inequality. Without proactively identifying and addressing relevant gender issues, environmental projects have the potential to not only perpetuate disparities but may even widen the gap between men and women. In fact, evidence reveals that there is a correlation between environment and gender; when gender inequality is high, forest depletion, air pollution, and other measures of environmental degradation are also high. Women are active agents of conservation and restoration of natural resources, as their caregiving responsibilities and livelihood activities are often highly dependent on these resources. Additionally, there is growing evidence that community management of natural resources is improved by having management groups consisting of both men and women.
Natural resource depletion
Here are a few steps you can follow for integrating environment into sector monitoring:
1. Ensure environmental assessment findings are incorporated into project activities and addressed in coordination and implementation. Monitor the environmental dimensions of indicators developed and make use of environmental sources of verification, including proxy data;
2. Involve local environmental actors in the development and implementation of activities, including through community accountability mechanisms and consultations – integrate environmental questions into accountability monitoring and communication with communities;
3. Highlight environmental points in communications, donor reporting and lessons learned exercises;
4. Generate environmental benefits through your activities (e.g. technology transfer, improved practices, strengthened social capital using the environment as a “bridge”, livelihoods or cash for work activities that address local environmental problems, etc) and guarantee sustainability through hand over to and ownership by the local community.
After identifying factors (spatial, social, and economic), environmental hazards, basic unmet needs, and relief and recovery activities capable of influencing negatively the environment, consider developing mitigation strategies including
1) change in plans;
2) implementation despite negative impacts;
3) cancellation of activity;
Use information gathered previously through MIRA and SEA, or another localised needs assessment about the humanitarian intervention to identify how the sector activities have impacted negatively the environment since the onset of relief and recovery activities.
Based on the results of this analysis, consider the following options
a) modifying or redesigning the existing relief and recovery efforts involving common-sense changes to address the negative environmental impacts;
b) designing new projects to resolve or mitigate critical issues;
c) acquiring additional information to determine the nature and extent of an environmental threat;
d) producing advocacy material to address the critical environmental threat with the local government and stakeholders.
While some of these activities can be anticipated in the planning and designing phase of the intervention, long-term humanitarian responses develop over time and thus new risks and threats may emerge as a result of new activities and the provision of new services.
Updating REA results ultimately means verifying whether new issues can be classified as newly-founded priorities in regard to the impact on life, livelihoods, and the environment.
As humanitarian interventions extend beyond the initial relief and recovery period, priorities are likely to change. Constant updating and monitoring of REA will likely evolve into an EIA for longer term-recovery and reconstruction programs.
Burundi, Chad, and Sudan are home to some of the world’s largest displaced
populations and vulnerable communities, highly exposed to climatic risks. The UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit is an implementing partner of the inter-agency project on “Adaptation to Climate Change in Sub-Saharan African Humanitarian Situations”, which aims to strengthen climate change
adaptation in target humanitarian hotspots. The project supports vulnerable communities, internally displaced people, refugees, and host communities facing climate-related risks.
Through taking a “no regrets strategy” integrated into existing humanitarian programmes, focusing on improving cleaner energy access, water management, and reforestation, monitoring and evaluation demonstrate that the following environmental activities have helped improve nutrition:
• 48,500 improved cookstoves adopted.
• 305 schools adopting fuel-efficient cooking practices and technologies.
• 63 solar panels installed in Burundi.
• 4 health clinics and 5 schools enabled to provide improved health, nutrition, and educational services.
• 1,920 hectares of forest planted/ rehabilitated.
• 3,064,000 trees successfully planted.