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

Technical assistance –Transitional shelter and core housing
General construction activities
General construction activities

Shelter – General construction activities


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

Sudden or progressive changes in the local environment often adversely affect the lives or living conditions of people. These people may then be forced to leave their homes. When environmental degradation occurs or natural hazards rapidly impact vulnerable areas, people may be forced to move. Relocation areas require proper infrastructure. The shelter’s new infrastructure should be built to be resilient and strong enough to endure the impact of future natural or manmade hazards.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Marginalised people are often impacted by construction activities, sometimes forcing them to relocate without any consultation. Vulnerable or minority people should always be consulted and their needs accommodated within the response design.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Soil erosion
Noise pollution
Impact on mental health

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

1. Noise, air, and dust pollution caused by construction activities

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

1. Dust, noise, and air pollution can pose health, comfort, and climatic concerns, as well as impact community relations. These can be caused by site clearance, materials delivery, excavation, construction, cutting, painting, etc.


Summary of environmental activities

1. Consult local communities and make appropriate adjustments

2. Use environmentally sensitive construction methods

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

1. Consult local communities – inform them of the planned activities, scale, timescale, work hours, and listen to and address their legitimate concerns for example by adjusting work hours or construction vehicle routes or avoiding noise at particular times of the day

2. Carry out construction activities in an environmentally sensitive way that eliminates or reduces air, water, soil pollution, or noise. Water spraying can be used to minimize dust, while vehicles should be well-maintained with idling avoided to minimize emissions.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences


Houses in Aceh Besar District, Sumatra, Indonesia, were built after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as well as a newly constructed seawall that was built as a coastal barrier to protect residents from future tsunamis and storms surges. Unfortunately, the site plan and design for the housing project overlooked the fact that a significant quantity of freshwater flows from inland areas toward the ocean during periods of heavy rainfall and becomes trapped by the seawall before it is released into the ocean.

The recurring floods damaged the newly constructed shelter, water and sanitation systems, and roads, and have affected residents’ health and quality of life. As a short-term fix, a costly drainage system was installed. To prevent these types of problems and added costs in the future, project planners need to ensure that there is coordinated planning among a range of stakeholders beyond the immediate project area and must pay particular attention to the broader environmental context.


Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Construction activities follow environmental standards

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time to consult with communities and adjust activities.

Time to assess possible air, water, soil, noise pollution and amend methods to minimise or eliminate.

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