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

Household items (NFIs)
In-kind material assistance



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

In-kind assistance can be tangible and intangible. Both types of NFI tangible (eg equipment, books, cars, clothing, furniture, and supplies) or intangible (eg advertising, patents, royalties, copyrights, and in-kind services such as professional services) depend on available resources for their production and subsequent shipment/distribution. The production of items such as equipment, clothing, furniture, and supplies consume natural and often non-renewable resources and their production pollutes the environment and depletes the availability of natural resources. If resources are scarce, production may reduce or costs may escalate which can affect humanitarian assistance. In addition, distribution may be affected by climatic and environmental conditions such as landslides or floods.

In-kind assistance may be stockpiled to enable rapid response; to counter local inflation or market disruption. Storage or stockpiling can be implemented for use, reuse, recycling, or disposal. Each of these also has the potential for causing harm to the environment and may lead to the risk of spreading disease and health problems.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Ensure equality of job access for women, men, able and disabled people, people of different ethnicities, sexuality, religion. Understand cultural norms and avoid putting people in situations where they may be put under duress by others that could lead to environmentally harmful practices.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil contamination
Water contamination
Natural resource depletion
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

1. Air, water and soil contamination due to spills or emissions of contaminants into the environment

2. Damage to stockpiled goods and potential disease vectors harming human, plant and animal health

3. Greenhouse gas emissions from degradation of stored items and from transport

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

1. Storing items may create environmental impacts such as air, soil and water pollution after any spill or emission of any kind.

2. Shelter products, including paints, preservatives, and cement can all pollute the air, water, soil and affect the health of humans, plants, and animals. In addition to adverse health and amenity impacts from dust, odour, litter, and leachate, outdoor stockpiles of materials can also harbour vermin, such as rodents and mosquitoes, which may lead to the risk of disease spread.

3a. Some materials release heat as they degrade (organic and other putrescible materials), combustible materials (paper, cardboard, wood, textile, rubber, and electronic material), and materials that may contain combustible substances (cars, oil drums, paint cans) should be stored in a manner to reduce any risk of overheating and spontaneous combustion.

3b. Improperly stored or managed liquids can contaminate water sources or the soil through spills or leakages. Improper storage of fuels can render the fuel unusable and a waste of resources. Improperly stored fuel can lead to decreased combustion efficiency and increased generation of air pollutants. Leaking fuels (e.g. inappropriate containers) can also cause health and environmental hazards.

3c. In the case of shelters that have no designated storerooms, the mixing of different items may increase the risk of fire.


Summary of environmental activities

1. Store elements and materials following safety protocols and considering environmental issues.

2. Store flammable items and fuels/liquids separate from each other

3a. Operate a first-in-first-out stock rotation scheme

3b. Regularly inspect stored items and remove and recycle or destroy degraded items

3c. Provide appropriate storage facilities at shelters and warehouses such as lacking LPG cylinders in well-ventilated cages.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

1. Materials with a potential to produce leachate and contaminated runoff should be stored in a sealed and bunded area in order to keep any uncontaminated surface water away and contain and prevent any spillages escaping and minimise impacts from potentially contaminated runoff. Covering these materials may also be required to reduce the potential for leachate generation and/or to prevent or minimize gaseous, dust, or other emissions

2. Depending on the size and composition of the stockpile, flammable or combustible liquids and hazardous materials should not be stored near stockpiles. Similarly, maintenance and activities that can produce sparks such as welding should be conducted away from stockpile areas.

3a. Stockpiled materials should be managed in a manner that minimises risks of fire, pollution, and vermin that can lead to risks to human health, property, and the environment. Ensuring stock is managed on a first-in, first-out basis, will reduce the likelihood of spoilage, spillages, and pollution.

3b. Establish regular stockpile inspections, including temperature monitoring and control. Record inventory information on the types of material stockpiled at the premises, particularly high-risk materials the location of material stockpiled at the premises the volumes (tonnes and/or cubic meters) of material stockpiled at the premises. Hydrological and hydrogeological conditions including proximity to surface and ground waters, water quality, and environmental values should be accounted for.

3c. Adequate and appropriate household space for the amount of fuel provided should be confirmed prior to distribution.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Experience with working with young people in Nigeria, Pakistan, Haiti, and Honduras shows that supporting groups of young people to develop their own livelihoods encourages local ownership, local leadership, and local sustainable market development. The key is engaging development actors during the humanitarian response, to support young people who want to build livelihoods in their communities that will help communities become more resilient to future similar crises.

See Integrated resource recovery centers here:

Example — Haiti 2008: IFRC shelter kits were distributed following floods. In rural environments toolkits were helpful. However, in the town of Gonaives, many of the kits distributed to families sheltered in churches and schools were sold. For these families, alternative approaches, such as providing cash for landless families to help them rent houses, were used.


Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Stockpiling activities follow regulations and integrate environmental considerations

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Good practice warehouse stock management is standard practice. Incorporating minor additional environmental protection practices should add minimal additional time and cost to warehouse stockpiling activities. Minor additional time and research to introduce environmental considerations in the activities related to stockpiling

Next guidance:

Supplier performance
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