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.
Monitoring shelter response and activities at the national and sub-national levels is necessary to ensure that different actors work efficiently and effectively in established coordination mechanisms, fulfill the core functions, support efficient delivery of relevant services and demonstrate accountability to affected people.
Monitoring also ensures that the architecture of coordination responds to changes in the context and in coordination needs. Monitoring activities will identify, among other aspects, if any environmental risks and threats, first identified in the MIRA or other initial assessment, have been exacerbated, intensified, or reduced throughout the lifecycle of the response.
Monitoring teams should be well trained in identifying links between programme activities and the environment, not all of which will be immediately visible. The humanitarian actors should identify ecosystems and specific natural resources, such as forests or groundwater, that might be at risk and that need to be protected throughout the life of the response. It is always easier, cheaper, and more effective to protect as much of the natural vegetation in and around the construction or recovery site as possible than to attempt to restore it later.
Where natural resources such as wood or bamboo, are brought onto the site for shelter construction or to use as fodder, roofing materials, or firewood, environmental impacts should be considered. These impacts need to be monitored throughout the different phases of the response, starting from the identification phase in the survey and assessment.
Mounting evidence shows that advancements in gender equality could have a profoundly positive impact on social and environmental well-being. But if not managed properly, environment projects can actually spur gender inequality.
Without proactively identifying and addressing relevant gender issues, environmental projects have the potential to not only perpetuate disparities but may even widen the gap between men and women. In fact, evidence reveals that there is a correlation between environment and gender; when gender inequality is high, forest depletion, air pollution, and other measures of environmental degradation are also high.
Women are active agents of conservation and restoration of natural resources, as their caregiving responsibilities and livelihood activities are often highly dependent on these resources.
Additionally, there is growing evidence that community management of natural resources is improved by having management groups consisting of both men and women.
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Impact on mental health
Increased intensity of storms/hurricanes
Monitoring and evaluation can help reduce negative environmental impacts and promote benefits:
1. Assess whether natural resources are being sustainably managed
2. Help assess impacts and degradation of flora, fauna, and ecosystems
3. Identify existing or potential pollution and health impacts
4. Assess increasing or decreasing resilience to environmental hazards
5. Inform and strengthen environmental practices
6. Assess environmental vulnerabilities and capacities
A monitoring and evaluation plan can help reduce environmental harm and promote environmental benefits.
1. Monitoring can help identify whether natural resources are being managed sustainably within the response site and in the surrounding areas, for the benefit and safety of the displaced population, the host community, and future generations
2. Monitoring activities throughout the lifecycle of the response should also help identify potential impacts and degradation of flora, fauna, and ecosystems. Environmental assessments, carried out on the onset of the humanitarian emergency will identify environmental concerns that may require immediate action or further investigation
3. Monitoring should help assess pollution and pollution prevention and potential health impacts – e.g. emissions to air, contaminants to soil and water, from all shelter activities including natural resource extraction; materials processing and transport; shelter and infrastructure construction; site/camp operation and maintenance; solid and organic waste management; sewerage; utilities; decommissioning and re-use, repurposing or recycling of buildings and materials
4. Monitoring can help assess whether the environment, as well as shelters and communities, are more or less resilient to previously identified environmental impacts or environmental hazards, and help identify what activities are contributing to any environmental, shelter, and community resilience
5. Monitoring and evaluation can help determine whether shelter practices are improving, staying the same, or getting worse over time
6. A Rapid Environmental Assessment can be used to help understand the environmental vulnerabilities and capacities of shelter sites and the surrounding areas
A monitoring and evaluation plan should be informed by environmental assessments of sites and activities. An initial Rapid Environmental Assessment should be undertaken for each potential shelter site. Use M&E findings to help you:
1. Develop an effective and sustainable natural resource management plan
2. Assess and address impacts and degradation of flora, fauna, and ecosystems
3. Assess pollution and potential health impacts and identify actions that can be taken to stop or reduce them
4. Assess shelters and community resilience to previously identified environmental hazards.
5. Inform and strengthen shelter environmental practices
6. A Rapid Environmental Assessment can be used by non-specialists to quickly obtain relevant environmental information.
A monitoring and evaluation plan should be informed by environmental assessments of the existing sites and of shelter-related activities. An initial, rapid, environmental assessment should be undertaken as soon as a site is being considered for use, and certainly, before a site is finally selected.
1. Monitoring should help effective and sustainable management of natural resources within the response site and in the surrounding areas, for the benefit and safety of the displaced population, the host community, and future generations.
2. Monitoring activities throughout the lifecycle of the response should also address potential impacts and degradation of flora, fauna, and ecosystems. Environmental assessments carried out on the onset of the humanitarian emergency will identify environmental concerns that may require immediate action or further investigation.
3. Monitoring should assess pollution and pollution prevention and potential health impacts – e.g. emissions to air, contaminants to soil and water, from all shelter activities including natural resource extraction; materials processing and transport; shelter and infrastructure construction; site/camp operation and maintenance; solid and organic waste management; sewerage; utilities; decommissioning and re-use, repurposing or recycling of buildings and materials
4. Monitoring will often need to also assess whether shelters and communities are more or less resilient to previously identified environmental hazards.
5. Monitoring and evaluation findings should be used to inform and strengthen environmental practices.
6. A Rapid Environmental Assessment can be used by non-environmental specialists to quickly obtain relevant environmental information: REA provides a baseline of environmental conditions and issues, REA provides information useful to monitor progress towards objectives and changes in impact on the environment. REA updates can also point to environmental issues to be included in the follow-up to emergency interventions, and identify possible indicators for a formal M&E system.
REA should be considered an integral part of a wider situation analysis in all refugee and returnee operations. Its conclusions and recommendations can have a direct impact on activities relating to:
a) site selection and camp/settlement design;
b) the arrangement and construction of shelters and other infrastructure;
c) the location and rate of use of groundwater resources;
d) the sourcing of shelter and construction materials;
e) treatment facilities and distribution networks of drinking water;
f) the provision of sanitation and health facilities;
In addition, CEAP developed a priority list of interventions, such as rehabilitation of eroded areas and reforestation.
As long as the community feels ownership for the plan through developing and implementing it themselves, albeit sometimes with external facilitation, it should also be able to adapt the plan to changing circumstances over time
Modules 1 and 2, Organization Level Assistance and Community Level Assistance respectively, are designed to collect basic information necessary to identify critical environmental issues. Module 3 Consolidation and Analysis moves the analysis further by providing simple procedures to help consolidate and prioritize issues identified in the first 2 modules.
As the REA assessment has been previously linked to the Sphere Handbook and the Core Humanitarian Standards on Quality and Accountability, its steps are bound by principles such as the ‘Do No Harm’ principle, which aims to prevent and mitigate any negative impact of humanitarian interventions on the affected populations. Moreover, REA considered the Shelter and Settlement principles in Chapter 7 of the Sphere Handbook.
In 2018, the Global Shelter Cluster (GSC) supported the recovery of 2,000 households displaced by flooding in Kenya by providing shelter, NFI kits, and training. Although procurement challenges around the importation of single-use plastics delayed the delivery, the project still managed to achieve its goals in a timely manner.
A monitoring and evaluation framework orientated around short-term outcomes was used to monitor the contribution of the project to self-recovery processes. The data gathered at distributions enabled the implementation team to learn and improve project delivery.
The goal of the project was to support shelter self-recovery, in complementarity with other actors, including the government. For an agency measuring the impact of the project was even more challenging. As such, the organization developed a monitoring and evaluation framework that used short-term outcomes.
The outcomes were orientated around supporting the return to homesites, aiding the construction of temporary shelters (or repairing existing structures), and facilitating a return to normal household routines.
At the centre of the framework was a robust post-distribution monitoring (PDM) plan conceived in two phases.
1. Exit surveys undertaken during the distribution were designed to ensure that the project was people-centered and that the training had been understood.
2. Household interviews were undertaken at the homes of recipients 4 to 14 days after distribution and aimed to verify that the short-term outcomes had been realized.
Some lessons learned included:
· Restrictions around the importation of single-use plastics are unlikely to be limited to this context, forming part of a global trend to improve the management of waste streams. Therefore, it is critical that global supply-chains are adapted accordingly so that humanitarian aid can be imported in a timely manner when appropriate. This will require a response at the agency and supplier levels. Additionally, the organization also started working to understand the internal barriers to local procurement and cash distributions, which are modalities that do not involve importation.
· The monitoring and evaluation framework was based on assumptions linking the achievement of short-term outcomes with self-recovery. Without an impact evaluation, it is not possible to verify that the response logic held true in the long term.
Access to natural resources essential for the delivery of basic shelter services and activities;
Soil degradation and erosion levels compared between pre and post (or during) response;
Environmental impact on reuse and recycling opportunities for waste created as a direct result of the response’s activities;
# of crises recorded throughout the response lifetime
# conflicts over natural resources/basic services over the response lifetime
Prevention of environmental damage
Mitigation of environmental damage
Understanding of the environmental impact assessments;
Human capacity to produce a situational analysis and identify the influencing environmental impacts in light of the relief/development activities;
Ability to disseminate and share results and information;