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)
Hygiene promotion
Promotion of good hygiene practices
Promotion of menstrual and incontinence hygiene practices

Promotion of menstrual and incontinence hygiene practices


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

Changes in the environment that people previously or currently live in affects the type of hygiene messages that will be useful for them. For example, if people used to live in a place that had abundant water resources, and the new location is drier, messages should take people’s background into account to teach locally appropriate ways to reduce water consumption and sustainably manage water resources. Additionally, people need to be advised against unmanaged dumping of waste, as contaminants can infiltrate and contaminate surface and/or groundwater.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Hygiene promotion messages need to be customised to take the needs of different groups such as women, girls, people with disabilities, and HIV/AIDS into account and need to be customized for them (for example, some groups might be more dependent or more exposed to certain hazards, such as lactating women and women may use disposable menstrual items that should be disposed of properly). This should be done in order to highlight the relationship that their actions have with the environment. For example, women may use disposable menstrual items that require guidance for proper disposal.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion
Cultural acceptance
Impact on wellbeing / mental health

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Waste and pollution due to accumulation of unused hygiene items due to lack of investing in consulting communities and understanding their preferences and practices, social norms, and myths concerning menstrual hygiene management and incontinence management.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Menstrual hygiene and incontinence items have the potential to generate waste and pollution due to raw materials waste, waste from accumulated unused items, the amounts of packaging that the items are covered with, and pollution associated with their eventual disposal.


Summary of environmental activities

Understand the practices, social norms, and myths concerning menstrual hygiene and incontinence items in order to deliver accepted, usable items and reduce the likelihood of production of excess waste.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Communities should be consulted regarding their knowledge, attitudes, and practices around menstrual hygiene and incontinence, and regarding their preferences around hygiene items.

Informed decisions should be made regarding procurement, design, provision, and awareness-raising related to hygiene items should be based on social norms, practices, and myths concerning menstrual hygiene and incontinence.

If introducing recyclable items, promotion and dissemination of information regarding the benefits of using these items should be undertaken, differentiating between recyclable packaging and reusable items.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Adapting hygiene kits based on community preferences can have positive environmental impacts. For example, when Myanmar Red Cross consulted communities on preferences for hygiene items, communities stated that they would prefer to receive metal buckets and fabric dishcloths rather than plastic and paper so that they could be reused. The organisation spoke to donors and received approval to replace the plastic buckets and paper towels with more durable items. This resulted in less plastic and paper waste, and more durable items for affected communities.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Percentage of assisted people whose menstrual hygiene and incontinence preferences are understood.

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time to consult communities on the knowledge, attitudes and practices, and time to source, distribute and raise awareness about appropriate hygiene items.

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