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)
Solid waste management
Solid waste management
Planning solid waste management systems

Planning solid waste management systems


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

Environmental factors, linked to solid waste management, that can cause or contribute to humanitarian needs or affect humanitarian activities include climate – temperature, humidity, rainfall; flooding; ground and surface water. Variation in these factors affects the demand for and complexity of waste management services. Flooding rivers often transport and deposit materials, including existing solid waste, and creating new solid waste, that then needs to be cleaned up to avoid problems such as creating new vector breeding sites and health problems in nearby populations. Strong wind and storms can also spread rubbish and debris, including from open solid waste piles.

Severe weather conditions may combine with other environmental conditions to generate waste. For example, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes often create large quantities of debris that need to be managed.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

When launching a waste management project, it may be necessary to develop a locally valid classification of waste, taking into account different views of women and men regarding what materials are considered waste and what categories of waste are in use in local discourse and practice. In order to maximize the quality and efficiency of waste management services, it is important to know the needs and challenges of women.

For example, are women-owned enterprises able to generate a high work volume to pay for the higher investment to introduce new technology for recycling?

Do women have equal access to the necessary training?



Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Soil erosion
Visual Intrusion
Cultural acceptance
Impact on wellbeing / mental health

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Air, soil, and water pollution from improper solid waste
management; disease spread; visual intrusion; unpleasant odor. Potential blockage of drains and watercourses.

Potential disease spread from improper handling, management/treatment of food waste.

Potential to reduce solid waste and pollution and build community or commercial-level recycling-based livelihoods.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Failure to effectively plan good practice solid waste management processes and facilities will result in air, soil, and water pollution; disease spread; visual intrusion; unpleasant odor as well as potential blockage of drains and watercourses. There is also potential for disease spread from improper handling, management/treatment of food waste.


Summary of environmental activities

Solid waste management plans
Waste reception, sorting and handling centres Waste separation and recycling activities and provision of good practice landfill.
Waste collection services
Waste collection fees
Waste transfer centres
Waste collection points
Waste sorting bins
Waste reduction incentives and penalties.
Recycling livelihoods

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Solid waste management plans are essential to reduce the air, soil, and water pollution that arise from improper solid waste management. A good solid waste management plan will reduce disease spread; dumping; visual intrusion; unpleasant odors; potential blockage of drains and watercourses.

Waste management systems include the development of waste reception, sorting, and handling centers; provision of waste separation and recycling; provision of good practice landfill. They also include the provision of waste collection services; income generation e.g. through charging for waste collection; waste transfer centers; waste collection points; household, business, community, and institution waste sorting bins; waste reduction incentives; and accompany laws penalising people for waste dumping and burning and incentivizing people and businesses for waste reduction.

Good waste management systems include the development of viable recycling-based livelihoods that can supply materials for construction, composting / agriculture; reconstituting glass and plastics; etc

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Municipal solid waste reflects the culture that produces it and affects the health of the people and the environment surrounding it. Globally, people are discarding growing quantities of waste, and its composition is more complex than ever before, as plastic and electronic consumer products diffuse. Concurrently, the world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate. These trends pose a challenge to cities, which are charged with managing waste in a socially and environmentally acceptable manner.

Effective waste management strategies depend on local waste characteristics, which vary with cultural, climatic, and socioeconomic variables, and institutional capacity. Globally, waste governance is becoming regionalized and formalized. In industrialized nations, where citizens produce far more waste than do other citizens, waste tends to be managed formally at a municipal or regional scale. In less-industrialized nations, where citizens produce less waste, which is mostly biogenic, a combination of formal and informal actors manages waste. Many waste management policies, technologies, and behaviors provide a variety of environmental benefits, including climate change mitigation. Key waste management challenges include integrating the informal waste sector in developing cities, reducing consumption in industrialized cities, increasing and standardizing the collection and analysis of solid waste data, and effectively managing increasingly complex waste while protecting people and the environment.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Percentage of solid waste being disposed


Activity status
Very high
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Environmental enhancement

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and resources for developing effective solid waste management plans.

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