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

Food Security
School feeding
School gardens

School gardens


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

Some countries expect school feeding to be self-sustained with food grown in school gardens that are tended by children during school hours. This approach raises some concerns. Even though school gardens can supply part of the food, expecting children and teachers to grow food on a sufficient scale is not an inappropriate use of the education system. The practice takes time away from education and therefore has an impact on its quality. With some exceptions, the level and reliability of food production are usually insufficient to cover the needs of the school canteen.

Introduction of alien species could spread invasive species which could deeply impact the local environment

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Ensure equitable access to growing and consuming food.


Environmental impact categories

Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural resource depletion
Soil erosion

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Loss of time for effective education can ultimately exacerbate local harmful environmental coping mechanisms.

Insufficient nutrients for children’s health requirements.

Introduction of invasive species.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

The introduction of invasive species could generate a loss in biodiversity and damage to local ecosystems.

Loss of time for effective education can ultimately exacerbate local harmful environmental coping mechanisms.

Insufficient nutrients for children’s health requirements.


Summary of suggested environmental activities

Using school gardens mostly for educational purposes

Integrate biodiversity for nutrition and health in food security and nutrition projects, such as school procurement programme home gardens.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Consider the range of available systems for guaranteeing the quality of produce – organic certification, agroecological farm registers, participatory guarantee systems, etc., and select the most suitable option. Consider how to support local farmers – for example, through complementary programmes in developing the capacity for organic and agroecological farming, quality assurance and sustainably providing food to school feeding programmes. Establish synergies with policies and programmes for organic, agroecological, or other forms of sustainable agriculture as relevant, including policies for promoting biodiversity and climate change adaptation. Provide education for teachers, catering staff, parents, schoolchildren, and the wider community on the benefits of organic and agroecological food and farming. Work closely with smallholders and planners to incorporate local biodiversity into school menus.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Project reports have shown that education authorities and health authorities assume that school gardens can effectively meet children’s nutrition requirements without any detriment. In reality, they reduce learning time and do not produce sufficient food to meet requirements. Volumes should be assessed and supplemented where necessary.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Environmental considerations and sustainability actions are included in the transition strategy in place (with milestones, timing targets, and benchmarks for achievement).

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Environmental enhancement

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

This requires close collaboration with the livelihoods approach and planning towards a long-term sustainable vision. This could be done with livelihood programming

Next guidance:

Security of tenure
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