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.
Humanitarian operations have a high risk of negatively impacting the environment, the effects of which may be far-reaching and long-lasting. These can affect the physical environment and the health, well-being, and livelihoods of affected and host communities, and the health and viability of flora and fauna. They can increase the risk for secondary or future disasters. For this reason, shelter and settlement assistance should minimize as much as possible their negative impacts on the natural environment.
When conducting a shelter needs assessment survey, attention should be given to the most appropriate methods of information gathering based on the specifications of the shelter and settlement response. Environmental impact assessments and mitigation strategies should accompany all shelter and site planning activities throughout the program cycle.
Assessments should always consist of some combination of household interviews with the affected communities, group discussions (FGDs) with the affected communities, key informant interviews, and direct observation.
All assessments should be gender-sensitive taking particular account of the needs of women and girls, and beneficiaries with disabilities, cultural stigma, and marginalization.
It is essential to understand the context and local economy to ensure whether a distribution will help to meet people’s needs or whether it will create additional vulnerabilities. In both rapid onset and protracted crises, the situation and markets will change, and so should be continually monitored and programmes adapted accordingly.
During the assessment phase, the following may be considered as tools and mechanisms to ensure protection against GBV and other minorities:
· Represent gender diversity, including age and disability.
· Train staff, partners, and service providers in Psychological First Aid (PFA) and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Impact on mental health
To understand the dynamics of a crisis and the potential environmental impacts, fragilities, and hazards related to shelter and settlement, it is essential to gather information to inform the sector assessment and the programmatic response. Inappropriately informed, designed, or implemented surveys and background research related to shelter and settlement programming can lead to, among other things:
1. Substantial waste and pollution
2. Creation of disease vectors
3. Local or displaced unsustainable depletion of natural resources
4. Land and soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, and harm to fragile ecosystems.
5. Human environmental impact from data and information gathering
Accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information is the foundation on which a coordinated and effective humanitarian response, in accordance with international technical standards, including on the environment.
To understand the dynamics of a crisis and the potential environmental impacts, fragilities, and hazards related to shelter and settlement, it is essential to gather a broad set of relevant information that will inform the sector-specific assessment and the programmatic response. Inappropriately informed, designed, or implemented surveys and background research related to shelter and settlement programming can lead to, among other things:
1. Substantial waste and pollution from lack of research/surveys regarding construction material source; source site environmental fragilities; material quantities; material quality; resource sustainability; cultural preferences; suitability of materials to local climates and ground conditions are not explored
2. Risk of creation of disease vectors if the research fails to understand how construction materials may be stored and transported; how waste materials are stockpiled; local methods of site clearance and potential for stripping vegetation; drainage routes blocked; over compacting ground and reducing infiltration rates and groundwater recharge; destroying migration routes
3. Risk of unsustainable depletion of local or remote natural resources without proper research. This includes potential deforestation, loss of water resources; clay; peat; plants, and animals
4. Potential land and soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, and harm to fragile ecosystems if topography; soil quality; hydrology; biodiversity, and ecosystems are not researched
5. Harm to the local environment from humans, vehicles, and material resources employed in the data and information gathering phase
1. Research available construction materials; potential sources; site fragilities; required quantities and quality/performance; sustainability; cultural preferences; suitability of materials to local climates and ground conditions
2. Research local approaches to construction materials storage and transport; waste materials management and disposal; local methods of site clearance; drainage routes; risks of over compacting ground or destroying migration routes
3. Research the risk of unsustainable depletion of local or remote natural resources
4. Research potential land and soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, and harm to fragile ecosystems
5. Research potential harm your research activities could cause to the environment
It is important to gather accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on the environment as it affects all aspects of shelter response:
1. Research and surveys can help you explore available construction materials; where they can be sourced from and any fragilities associated with those sources; research will help you assess required material quantities and quality/performance; research helps you assess resource sustainability; cultural preferences; suitability of materials to local climates and ground conditions. This information will help you design a stronger more sustainable shelter response. Research should include details of the affected population, what risks and threats they encounter, and local uses for land and environmental coping mechanisms in times of stress or crisis
2. Research can help you understand how construction materials may be stored and transported; how waste materials are stockpiled; local methods of site clearance and potential for stripping vegetation; whether drainage routes may be blocked and the impacts of doing so; the likelihood and impact of over compacting ground and reducing infiltration rates and groundwater recharge; the likelihood and impact of destroying migration routes. This information can help you plan sustainably and reduce the likelihood of pollution and creating disease vectors
3. Research can be designed to assess the risk of and prevent or mitigate unsustainable depletion of local or remote natural resources including forests, water resources; clay; peat; plants, and animals. The principle of ‘prevention before cure’ should be applied to every environmental situation in a camp or settlement
4. Research can identify potential for land and soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and harm to fragile ecosystems if topography; soil quality; hydrology; biodiversity, and ecosystems are not well understood and planned to be protected
5. Research can help you understand the potential harm your research activities could cause to the environment from the activities of your researchers, their vehicles, and material resources employed in the data and information gathering.
Guidance on using MIRA with a Strategic Environmental
Assessment to inform your research:
MIRA is intended to facilitate a common understanding of overall humanitarian needs and provide decision-makers with adequate, accurate, and reliable information. Integrating SEA considerations into an existing MIRA Framework will likely happen across all the stages of the research. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for example, provides a framework for evaluating the environmental implications of a proposed policy, plan, or programmer and provides means for looking at cumulative effects and enables the managing agency to address these effects at the earliest stage of the decision-making process, alongside economic and social considerations.
The research could be as such:
Step 1) Secondary data review, the revision of publications and existing reports on shelter and settlement programmes, and environmental assessments should enable you to define the environmental baseline for your project (3.1 SEA).
Simultaneously, it should enable you to identify the environmental and climate change-related constraints and opportunities which your activities will undoubtedly cause (SEA 3.2). Based on the information you already have, an analysis of your organization’s capacities (3.4 SEA) should allow for the identification of gaps in knowledge and shortcomings, which can inform Step 2 of MIRA, Primary Data Collection.
Step 2) Primary data review – Upon completing the review of secondary data and identifying key gaps to focus the primary data collection, you can establish quantitative and qualitative indicators for your performance. These indicators should also inform the types of questions, surveys, or interviews you conduct in the primary data collection phase. Choosing the most appropriate method of information gathering, whether in-person surveys, virtual surveys, household or community level, Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) will depend on the specifics of your current shelter and settlement response plan.
For the Primary Data Collection phase, the level of detail and questions asked during primary data collection will largely depend on information gaps identified during the secondary data review.
Steps 3) and 4): Data collection can be carried out using the following methodologies:
a) Community Observation;
b) Community Key Informants;
c) Focus Group Discussions;
d) Household Key Informant,
e) Infrastructure/Facilities Visits.
By incorporating questions or concerns raised during the Secondary Data Review (MIRA Step 1 and SEA Stage 3), the information collected will influence the development of a shelter and settlement strategy which will structure and phase a sectoral response (Shelter, WASH, Protection, Nutrition, etc) to address the needs of the affected population, in light of the constraints and restrictions of resources and personnel.
Step 5) Analysis. Some suggested actions include:
· Involve the host government from an early stage;
· Involve the corresponding ministries of migration, water, housing, and environment as sources of information, mobilization capacity, and promotion of the program and implementing partner;
· Liaise with and consider local partnerships with national or local environmental partnerships;
· Include environment and climate change specific questions in your surveys, interviews, and direct observation activities;
· Coordinate with donors and sell the SEA as a beneficial step to better manage the programme’s resources and their contribution;
· Ensure that gaps identified through the Secondary Data review address the concerns of the government delegations as part of your response;
· Establish a priority scale for environmental impacts and effects, do not try to cover and solve everything;
· Establish a time-scale for the information gathering and upon direct observation and interviews, address medium and long-term problems and concerns;
· Include environmental aspects in the training of shelter managers, and establish a checklist to look at the impacts during the operation and maintenance.
Against a background of insecurity and protracted displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tensions in 2016 over the recognition of traditional leaders led to an escalation of conflict between the national army and local militia in the Kasai region. ç
About 1.4 million people were displaced in the first half of 2017 across the region. In October 2017, a six-month system-wide Level 3 emergency was declared to respond to the scale of the crisis in the country.
Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI) were identified amongst the key priorities in multisectoral assessments conducted in Kasai province. Despite the acute needs, the Shelter-NFI Cluster remained the most underfunded sector in the country in 2018 (less than 10% funded). Only 36% of the people were reached by March 2018 and very few humanitarian partners were implementing shelter activities.
The shelter working group established a National Shelter Strategy centred around four main interventions:
· collective center upgrades
· emergency shelter kits for displacement sites;
· conditional cash support for families hosting IDPs;
· material distribution and conditional cash transfer to support return.
The working group advocated for inclusive processes, focusing on capacity-building and owner-driven construction, as well as the use of local materials and housing typologies.
To identify the most vulnerable households and individuals, the Vulnerability Scorecard approach was used to target beneficiaries given the acute gaps between needs and available resources.
Developed in 2007 by the NFI Cluster, the approach used a ranking from 0 (no need) to 5 (extreme vulnerability) based on set criteria. For shelter, the scorecard was developed in 2014. Criteria for each household were selected from drop-down lists in a spreadsheet that calculated
the final scores.
Criteria were grouped into five categories:
· Humanitarian situation (see opposite table);
· Density/privacy within the shelter;
· Location (incl. tenure arrangement);
· Roof conditions; and
· General shelter conditions (incl. foundations and walls).
The organization applied additional vulnerability criteria to the Cluster scorecard. This reflected a focus on specific vulnerabilities, including safety, gender, age, and disability-related. A team of five enumerators was employed to conduct the initial assessments. In the target areas, the organization identified
average scores of 4.8/5 for shelter and 3.8/5 for NFI. IDPs, returnees, and host community members were all targeted.
The selection process was conducted in consultation with local community leaders and affected people to reduce tensions over the prioritization, including the definition of the selection criteria.
a.2 / democratic republic of the congo 2018 / CONFLICT (IDP+return) AFRICA
# of environmental impact assessments conducted in the area assessing shelter and settlement issues
# of focus groups (FGDs) and other interview and data collection methods conducted as part of shelter needs assessments that integrate environmental issues
# of government or non-government led publications about shelter program environmental impacts, urban development, and internal displacement, with a focus in the region
Prevention of environmental damage
Mitigation of environmental damage
Availability and accessibility of data and the type of data needed may vary between a conflict or disaster situation.
Politics, religion, ethnicity, nationality, and social background may be highly contested and both source of conflict and reasons for flight/displacement.
These factors can influence to what extent the displaced population will share information without fear of risking their lives.
Specific consideration should be given to the organization of category-specific focused groups or surveyed groups to identify individual and collective needs.
The involvement and partnerships with local NGOs and actors, with prior experience in shelter and settlement responses in the areas.
Significant resources should be oriented for desk-based secondary data collection and research and building a relationship with national and regional authorities.
Ensure training of local data collectors (on data collection and feedback).
Recruit local researchers team.