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

Essential Healthcare - Zoonotic Diseases
Infection prevention and control (prevention and treatment of zoonotic diseases)
Providing training and materials for first aid procedures for injuries caused by animals

Providing training and materials for first aid procedures for injuries caused by animals


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

There are environmental factors affecting the way in which health items are provided or distributed. These include transportation of first aid kits as well as the provision of training. For example, high levels of humidity or rainfall might make it necessary to wrap items in impermeable packaging or tarpaulins, and how are these disposed of after the distribution. This may also include the state of roads, which may be affected by landslides or extreme weather events that make transportation by road impossible. There are also different climatic or environmental factors that might increase the use of health items or accelerate the deterioration of stored essential medical items.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Ensure traditions are safeguarded if needed, such as different transportation vehicles for men and women.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Natural resource depletion

Summary of Impacts
Potential environmental impacts
  • Transportation of staff for training and of first aid kits for injured animals increase air pollution and release of greenhouse gases.
  • First aid materials need to be properly stored in order to avoid contamination of water sources and soil while at the same time preserving the aid items long-term. Also, the accumulation of packaging, containers, and bottles may result in contamination of water sources and end up in rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information
  • Availability of safe essential medicines and medical services usually requires storage and transport. Transportation activities usually burn fossil fuels that impact the environment by reducing air quality and creating air and noise pollution from combustion, and contribute to climate change, mainly from carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) products. In addition, air pollution can increase respiratory diseases. There is a potential increase in waste from the packaging. In some settings that require the use of boats, transportation can also cause water pollution.
  • 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. Good medicine management also prohibits unsafe or expired medicines, which helps avoid immediate waste. When delivered items do not match with the cultural preferences of affected communities, items may be unneeded, unused, and wasted, or may be 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.
  • Also, when items are used but the resulting waste is not properly managed, accumulation of waste can occur in places that have limited capacity to gather, transport, recycle or dispose of that waste appropriately. Additionally, the lack of use of health items and the accumulation of waste can cause health problems because improper disposal and management of health wastes can also become a vector for disease to spread within communities as well as contaminate the surrounding environment. Furthermore, proper storage is important in order to preserve aid items in good condition and avoid additional waste.


Summary of environmental activities
  • Use of local staff, local procurement of medicines where appropriate, and minimising transport when possible.
  • Where possible source local sustainably produced items
    Properly identify needs and base aid items on culture and context or work with communities to help them understand, accept and adopt items that are more sustainable.
Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities
  • When acquiring or moving staff the environmental impacts of transportation and energy used need to be assessed. Recruiting local staff will increase the availability of local knowledge, benefit the local economy, contribute to the local economy and benefit the environment by reducing air pollution from travel and reduced consumption and energy use that are usually associated with expatriate staff.
  • Organise a staff vehicle sharing for travel to reduce vehicle emissions. Ensure not only the most efficient mode of transportation but also the least detrimental for the environment (e.g.: use one big truck instead of several small vehicles).
  • Promote and enable the use of public transport and non-motorized transportation (cycling and walking) for staff as well as for patients and visitors.
  • Procure when possible, health items, essential medical products, and technologies locally, and when doing so, determine that the environmental impact of those local items is comparably less than transported/imported items. Determine how sustainable the processes are for producing those items, noting that environmental impacts on water, soil, and air can be higher in local industries due to the lack of appropriate technologies. Locally available or sourced materials reduce environmental impacts associated with transportation and distribution. However, the provisioning and regeneration capacity of local resources should be considered.
  • Raise awareness and capacity of local stakeholders to understand and pursue opportunities to engage
  • Prioritise low-carbon alternatives in the design and operation of the built environment, procurement and purchasing, energy efficiency, energy sourcing, retrofitting, and equipment;
  • Increase efficiency by buying products, equipment, or services that consume less energy and have a lower environmental impact during their in-use life and at the disposal
  • Ensure that communities are sensitized to the need to manage aid kit items and packaging
  • When identifying and selecting items to procure, choose options with safe but low amounts of packaging that protect the items from external contaminants while packaging various components of a set as one unit versus individual units.
  • Search for biodegradable options that can be safely and easily disposed of after use or that are made from sustainable sources or using sustainable processes.
  • Consider providing reusable containers that allow for a safe refill. Design a recycling plan for items that cannot be reused. Also, consider, when feasible, biodegradable packaging.
Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences
  • Many humanitarian responders now coordinate community health visits to minimise the total number of journeys.
  • First aid materials need to be properly stored in order to avoid contamination of water sources and soil while at the same time preserving the aid items long-term. Also, the accumulation of packaging, containers, and bottles may result in contamination of water sources and end up in rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples
  • The proportion of information shared through less polluting methods such as radio or television.
  • The proportion of local staff to ex-pats.
  • Percentage of delivered items that were produced locally
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)
  • Time and expertise to assess environmental impacts. Time and expertise to amend recruitment policies and procedures. Time and effort to encourage or require vehicle sharing and to support the increase of safe efficient public transport.
  • Time, resources, and expertise for research, design, and implementation.
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