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

Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH)
Hygiene promotion
Providing access to hygiene items
Transportation and distribution of hygiene items

Transportation and distribution of hygiene items


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

The sourcing, provision, transport, distribution, use, and selection of hygiene items are all influenced by environmental factors and all-cause environmental impacts that need to be understood and mitigated. Even the type of hygiene items that affected people and how they use them are both affected by local climate and environment.

Environmental factors such as air pollution or poor water quality may influence the use of hygiene items and may even make specific hygiene items necessary. For example, the lack of adequate water for hygiene actions may require the provision of external sources of water or substitutes such as sanitizer. There are environmental factors affecting the way in which hygiene items are provided, distributed, and ultimately disposed of, e.g. high levels of humidity or rainfall may make it necessary to wrap items in impermeable packaging or tarpaulins. There are also different climatic or environmental factors that might increase the use of hygiene items or accelerate the deterioration of stored hygiene items. Environmental hazards may affect the ability to distribute hygiene items, such as landslides due to slope vegetation stripping, or extreme weather events that impede transport or access.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

The specific needs of women, children, the elderly, disabled, minorities, and people living with chronic or terminal illness should be considered in the design and selection of environmentally sustainable hygiene items.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion
Climate change
Cultural acceptance
Impact on wellbeing / mental health

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Air pollution due to the environmental impacts associated with transportation.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Most forms of transport of goods create air pollution, including the release of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. This is due to a combination of distance traveled; transport mode (air, land, sea); fuel type, efficiency and maintenance of vehicles; and even efficiency of delivery routes taken. Local procurement should be explored because it is sometimes more sustainable, however, local suppliers often source their products remotely. Purchase from local markets is no guarantee of local production.

As well as releasing greenhouse gases, poorly maintained lorries can release substantial amounts of diesel particulates which contribute to increased respiratory diseases. There is also potential for an increase in waste from packaging designed to keep products safe and unspoiled during transport.


Summary of environmental activities

Where quality, durability and environmental sustainability can be ensured, deliver sustainably produced locally produced items.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Where quality, durability, and environmental sustainability can be ensured, deliver sustainably produced locally produced items. This requires careful assessment of the natural materials used, manufacturing processes, energy use, recycling of water, packaging, waste generated, and waste disposal as well as worker’s conditions and health in order to determine that the environmental impact of those local items is comparably less than transported/imported items. Include comparison between local products and their quality (or cash for local purchase) against imported items, because low quality/durability items will degrade and fail faster, leading to greater consumption, waste, and use of natural resources and creation of pollution.

Sustainability assessments should include consideration of raw materials sourcing and manufacturing processes because environmental impacts on water, soil, and air can be higher in local industries due to lack of modern efficient practices and technologies. Sourcing materials and hygiene items locally reduce the environmental impacts associated with transportation and distribution. However, the provisioning and regeneration capacity of local sources should also be considered.

Assurance of quality and materials sourcing of local goods and services can be more challenging than for imported goods, for instance, there may be fewer controls, less stringent monitoring and reporting requirements, and even less ability to use the scale of production and sales to invest in more sustainable production and waste and pollution reduction methods. Mechanisms to address these challenges, including raising awareness and capacity of local stakeholders to understand and pursue opportunities to engage throughout the supply chain, must be established.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Adapting hygiene kits based on community preferences can have positive environmental impacts. For example, when Myanmar Red Cross consulted communities on preferences for hygiene items, communities stated that they would prefer to receive metal buckets and fabric dishcloths rather than plastic and paper so that they could be reused. The organisation spoke to donors and received approval to replace the plastic buckets and paper towels with more durable items. This resulted in less plastic and paper waste, and more durable items for affected communities.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Percentage of delivered items that were sourced locally and produced sustainably

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and expertise to assess the quality, durability, and environmental sustainability of local versus imported hygiene items.

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