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)
Access to sanitation
Faecal Sludge management (FSM)
Transportation of Faecal Sludge

Transportation of Faecal Sludge


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

Water pollution can affect people’s health. Bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases like typhoid, cholera, encephalitis, poliomyelitis, hepatitis, skin infection, and gastrointestinal diseases can spread through polluted water increasing the probabilities of overloading the capacity of excreta management systems due to diarrhoeal and vomiting cases. This impacts efficiency and capacity (that is increased amount of excreta generated due to health burdens).

In addition, proximity between water tubewells and latrines, soil porosity, ground water table, topography, drainage, and stability of slopes, may result in pollution of wells from surface water, sewage, sludge, solid waste leachates, chemical spills, etc and subsequent sickness or disease.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

People who have less power in communities are usually those who are served by the worst infrastructure. Septic tank and cesspit overflows, storm spillages, and failure of sewerage networks are more likely to impact the poor and vulnerable greatest.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Climate change
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Water and soil pollution due to spills or leakages from tanks containing sludge, under transport. Also noise, air, and dust pollution caused by transportation activities.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Transportation of excreta using trucks or other fossil fuel-based vehicles creates several environmental impacts or risks including air and noise pollution from fuel combustion, including diesel particulates and carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) emissions.

Water and soil pollution can also occur due to spills or leakages during filling/emptying and transport, caused by lack of maintenance or accidents during transport, or if the treatment facilities are too remote, the waste is illegally dumped.


Summary of environmental activities

Use of fuel-efficient vehicles. Regular inspection and maintenance of trucks to ensure that they are running efficiently with minimum emissions. Plan for safe efficient routes where risks and emissions are reduced.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Wherever possible, eliminate or minimise transportation of sludge, treating it as near to the point of production as safely possible. Consider use in the development of fertilizer and similar (prevention).

Purchase, hire or supplier contract clauses can be used to ensure modern fuel efficiency, low emission vehicles are used for sludge transport.

Regular inspections and maintenance of trucks will improve their efficiency and reduce the risk of breakdowns. When trucks are not well maintained they are more likely to be involved in accidents, which may include overturning, spills, and leakages.

Train drivers in fuel-efficient driving – gentle accelerating and braking; inspecting and maintaining tires, etc. Develop safe and fuel-efficient routes to reduce emissions and reduce the risk of accidents or spills. Monitor drivers/contractors (GPS) to reduce the risk of illegal dumping. Ensure vehicles are fitted with speed limiters and monitored to avoid accidents and spills.

Minimise the use of trucks for transportation of sludge or build transfer stations to reduce the distance between the source and the treatment facilities. Explore options for sludge to be gravity fed, or pumped directly to transfer stations. Transfer stations can be a useful interface between informal settlements where vacuum trucks cannot access, and formal settlements, where municipal or private motorized service providers are active. The practice of dumping untreated sludge at an offsite location should be looked for and avoided.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

In Bangladesh, there has been insufficient capacity to treat sewage and septage, and lack of capacity to remove and treat sludge from sewage treatment facilities. This has led to much sewage being insufficiently treated and ground water pollution. This is being addressed with the gradual provision of water supply networks.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Trucks used for transport receive proper maintenance works.

Discharge from trucks is done according to an agreed excreta management plan that mitigates environmental risk.

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and budget for developing local sludge management and treatment facilities where possible.

Alternatively, time and budget for procurement/hiring fuel-efficient vehicles and for regular inspection and maintenance of trucks and to plan efficient routes where risks and emissions are reduced.

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