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
Reuse and recycling

Reuse and recycling


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

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

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Re-use and recycling of solid waste bring many benefits to the environment but can also create some negative environmental impacts of not being planned and well-managed.

Re-use and recycling can reduce air, soil, and water pollution, visual intrusion, odor, and disease spread. It can reduce the likelihood of blocked drains and watercourses and therefore reduce blockage-related flooding. Re-use of food waste for composting or bio digestion can reduce water and soil pollution and related disease spread.

However, poorly designed recycling initiatives can lead to air, water, soil, and other forms of pollution.
Similarly, re-use of some items if poorly thought through, could lead to chemical leaks, or risks of electrocution or vehicle accidents and fatalities in the case of electrical appliances, car tires, and other vehicle parts.


Summary of environmental activities

Waste reception and separation sites
Waste collection services
Waste bins
Community awareness-raising.
Waste separation incentives
Deposit return schemes
Payment for valuable waste such as metals
Support recycling livelihoods
Behavior change activities.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Provision of waste separation at source and at waste transfer sites, at point of waste collection and at waste reception sites will reduce waste to landfill and increase recycling. This needs to be supported by provision of effective sustainably funded waste collection services, separating different waste streams, and funding the start up of sustainable recycling businesses to support recycling at scale together with provision of household, business and insitutional waste bins for different waste streams and strong community awareness raising. This can be further supported with incentives to sort and separate waste such as deposit return schemes, payment for valuable waste such as metals and education on reducing, re-using, repurposing and recyling waste. Further uptake can be increased by designing behaviour change activities which include accompanying community members in exploring waste in their communities – where it comes from; where it ends up; the impact it has on their communities – people’s health, aesthetics, odor, blocking drains, harming animals; supporting them in developing their own solutions to clean up their own communities.

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 waste that is re-used or recycled

Activity status
Very high
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time, resources, training, support to ensure effective provision of ultimately self funding waste reception, separation and recycling centres.

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