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

Security of tenure
Security of tenure
Tenure arrangements

Tenure arrangements


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

Land tenure and environmental conditions are closely related: uncertainty of land tenure can lead to land-use practices that harm the environment. Certainty of land tenure can serve to enhance the environment.

Unsuitable rules (either formal or informal) for acquiring access to or ownership of land can lead to environmental degradation.

Insecure land tenure is linked to poor land use which in turn leads to environmental degradation. Lack of clear rights can reduce the incentive to implement long-term resource measures. Inappropriate tenure arrangements on state land can also lead to environmental degradation.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Land tenure issues related to the environment are not isolated from tenure issues associated with gender or conflicts. Instead, they co-exist in societies. For example, designing a project to promote community forestry or to improve the livelihoods of pastoralists raises the need to incorporate land tenure practices that promote environmentally sustainable land uses, that ensure access to resources by disadvantaged groups, and that address conflict over the rights to use the land.

Communities that experience land shortages or rapidly increasing land values may be unable or reluctant to prevent male relatives from claiming land over which women, particularly widowed or single women, have rights.


Environmental impact categories

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

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

1. Insecure tenure can result in harmful activities intended to ensure land security, such as complete land clearance without regard to any ecosystems or impacts on flora, fauna, and natural resources.

2. Lack of tenure security can also result in unintentional environmental degradation resulting from a lack of appropriate infrastructure and services.

3. Tenant farmers may use unsustainable farming techniques if they have insecurity of tenure.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

1. Intentional large-scale land clearance aimed at forcing movement towards obtaining land tenure rights has many harmful impacts including blocking, polluting, or diverting watercourses; air and soil pollution; creation of drainage/flooding problems; destruction of natural resources; harm to flora and fauna and disruption of ecosystems.

2. Lack of tenure security can also result in unintentional environmental degradation – lack of tenure rights usually results in a lack of rights to develop temporary or permanent infrastructure and services such as water supply, power supply, sewerage, drainage, sanitation, and recreational spaces.

3. Tenant farmers with short-term leases may not undertake soil protection measures, plant trees, and improve pastures if they do not hold the land long enough to receive the benefits of their investments.

Forests have often been depleted and slash-and-burn agricultural practices for land clearance by local people who had customary rights to those resources.


Summary of environmental activities

1. Negotiate strong land tenure arrangements; ensure existing arrangements are not threatened.

2. Negotiate temporary rights for infrastructure and services.

3. Incentivised or recompensed tenant farmers to reduce or avoid environmental degradation.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

1a. Well-planned and negotiated land tenure rules can promote sustainable land use and reduce environmental harm. Projects should ensure that existing, successful land tenure arrangements are strengthened, rather than threatened. Customary tenure patterns can be used to generate legal frameworks, in which local institutions guide the internal division of property within the groups’ territories, including family rights to agricultural fields and rights to grazing, fishing, and forest areas. Often it is recognized that rights to access a particular place or resource may be overlapping, depending on season and/or other factors such as age, gender, lineage, and ritual knowledge.

1b. Use participatory, transparent, and inclusive processes to develop a grounded understanding of tenure rights and responsibilities associated with livelihood strategies of vulnerable populations. Support procedural rights to uphold the capabilities and adaptive capacity of local communities. Respect culture and traditional processes for management and transfer of rights.

2. Temporary rights should be negotiated to provide removable infrastructure and services to reduce long-term negative environmental impacts. Commitments should be put in place for site remediation and improvement after people have relocated.

3. Tenant farmers should be incentivised or recompensed for providing environmental benefits that will prevent long-term land degradation, such as providing incentives for tree conservation or protecting watercourses and sustainable use of other natural resources.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Community registration of community title to use and manage rangelands can reduce conflict and set a basis for negotiation. In Afghanistan, where rangelands are public lands and pastures are the principal focus of conflict that affect people, community registration of records of communities title has reduced conflict in several jurisdictions and enhanced investment in restoration of degraded areas.

Dialogue bridges differing interests and increases tenure security. With the Australian National Water Commission’s support, the Indigenous Community Water Facilitator Network acts as a catalyst to ensure that indigenous interests are incorporated into water policy decisions, management plans and water allocations. This has strengthened tenure security to water and worked to reduce conflicts that were exacerbated by unbundling water rights and putting them onto the market.


Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Actual tenure (type of tenure and experiences of evictions) and perceived tenure security (in the form of fear of eviction)

Activity Status
Very high
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Environmental enhancement

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Field and desktop research to assess existing tenure security as well as local laws, methods, and rules around land rights.

Additional time, research, and specialization to incorporate programs or strategies for tenure security.

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