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.
Environmental factors such as air pollution or poor water quality may influence the use of hygiene items and make the provision of hygiene items necessary. For example, the lack of adequate water for hygiene actions may require external sources of water or substitutes such as hand sanitizer instead of water and soap. Environmental factors affect the way in which hygiene items are provided or distributed. These include remote or local procurement, packaging, and transport. High levels of humidity or rainfall might make it necessary to wrap items in impermeable packaging or tarpaulins, which require planning for their re-use, return, or disposal after distribution. Local climatic and environmental factors can increase the use of hygiene items or accelerate the deterioration of stored hygiene items. Local environmental hazards can affect distribution such as road deterioration by landslides, or extreme weather events that prevent transportation by air or waterways.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the lack of access to basic water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities, due to their needs during periods of increased vulnerability to infection around menstruation and reproduction cycles. Additionally, other groups may have special needs in terms of health and hygiene practices. For this reason, disaggregate and understand the different groups of people in the community that may have special needs and behaviours when performing hygiene actions. Regarding other groups such as persons with disabilities or HIV/AIDS, create special messages explaining actions that are environmentally sensitive regarding special items they may be using. For example, pregnant women with HIV and their newborns will need more specific care than pregnant women without HIV. Regarding sexual health items, messages need to be oriented towards the safe disposal of items such as condoms. Condoms cause problems by clogging sewage drains.
Girls and women in low-resource and emergency contexts without access to adequate menstrual hygiene management facilities and supplies can experience stigma and social exclusion while also foregoing important educational, social, and economic opportunities.
Water sources and soil can be affected by the accumulation of waste and spills from piled solid waste. Accumulation of packaging, containers, and bottles may result in blockage and contamination of waters sources and end up in rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
Delivery of items can have negative effects on the environment if not well planned or the needs and behaviour of individuals and communities are not appropriately assessed. When delivered items do not match with the cultural requirements of affected communities, items may be unused and be discarded. When items are used but the resulting waste is not properly managed, accumulation of waste can occur in locations that have limited capacity to gather, transport, separate, recycle or dispose of that waste appropriately. Additionally, the lack of use of hygiene items and the accumulation of waste can cause health problems because improper disposal and management of hygiene waste can harbour disease vectors.
Properly identify pregnant women’s preferences in delivery methods and related health/hygiene items and kits based on culture and context
An NGO working in northern Niger did not consult local women about their health preferences. After they realised women were dying in childbirth because they refused to see female health professionals face to face, they changed their practice to work from behind curtains and saved lives.
Prevention of environmental damage
Field and desktop research to understand the needs and behaviours of people. Costs can vary from the normal items (more/less). Also, extra time to investigate sustainable products to be procured locally, and products free of hazardous materials.
Requires coordination with procurement and logistics teams. Can take longer to action changes.