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.
Affected people who temporarily relocate to a host’s house (relative, friend, or stranger’s) are still vulnerable and their dependence on the environment in order to survive should be considered. Hosted people receive food, water, shelter from relatives or friends which places a burden on all concerned with food, water, fuel, and other basic inputs consumed at higher rates. If not supported over time, the additional burden can become too great, resulting in hosted people being asked to leave. These households are thus displaced a second time and often end up in camps or other difficult shelter situations, causing greater demands on humanitarian actors than might otherwise be the case, and increasing the risk of environmental degradation due to damaging coping strategies such as deforestation for fuel. Also, if host families reside in or near zones exposed to natural hazards or conflict, the risk of displacement of not only the hosted people but also the host family is high.
Waste management and recycling are often more accessible to minority groups including people living with health challenges, disabilities, or other forms of exclusion. Supported well, recycling livelihoods can give previously excluded people their own financial independence.
Natural resource depletion
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
1. Depletion of local natural resources due to increased numbers of displaced people and host communities sourcing additional food, water, and firewood.
2. Water sources, air, and soil can become polluted through the increased volume of waste and spills and disease vectors created by piled wasted items.
3. Increased accumulation of packaging, containers, and bottles may result in physical pollution and blockage of water sources, streams, and end up in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Air pollution can also occur as waste breaks down and releases polluting gases; as well as from the transportation of items.
1. Displacement of large numbers of people to host communities always places a substantial additional strain on households and on local infrastructure and the surrounding environment. This can easily become unsustainable and cause substantial harm to the environment as people deplete local resources to source timber for fuel, construction or to sell; over abstract water and local flora and fauna for food, cleaning, health, etc;
2. Disposal of excess waste through physical dumping or burning can cause pollution which can exceed the recovery capacity of the local environment and can contribute to local health hazards.
3. Delivery of items can have negative effects on the environment if not well planned, or if the needs and behaviour of individuals and communities are not appropriately assessed. When delivered items do not match with the cultural preferences of affected communities, items may be unneeded, unused, and wasted, or maybe re-sold in local markets so that targeted people can use the money to purchase the items they really need. Also, when items are used in locations where there is limited local waste management and recycling infrastructure waste can end up creating breeding locations for disease vectors; causing injury to animals and human health; and degrading or being burned to cause water, soil, and air pollution.
1. Ensure NFI post-distribution monitoring considers environmental impacts including transport, delivery, distribution of items.
1. When carrying out the monitoring of distributed items include environmental considerations in the following way: Assess the uses that affected people are giving to the delivered items to ensure that those affected by the crisis receive suitable and necessary items that fulfill their usability and quality needs. Then, understand the relationship that exists between the items, the uses, and the environment in order to mitigate any existing damage or enhancements.
Experience with working with young people in Nigeria, Pakistan, Haiti, and Honduras shows that supporting groups of young people to develop their own livelihoods encourages local ownership, local leadership, and local sustainable market development. The key is engaging development actors during the humanitarian response, to support young people who want to build livelihoods in their communities that will help communities become more resilient to future similar crises.
See Integrated resource recovery centers here: https://learn.tearfund.org/en/how-we-work/what-we-do/environment-and-climate
Example — Haiti 2008: IFRC shelter kits were distributed following floods. In rural environments toolkits were helpful. However, in the town of Gonaives, many of the kits distributed to families sheltered in churches and schools were sold. For these families, alternative approaches, such as providing cash for landless families to help them rent houses, were used.
Prevention of environmental damage
Usual post distribution monitoring inputs.