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

Food Security
Food storage
Warehouse construction

Warehouse construction


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

The construction of buildings and infrastructure has environmental impacts, these can be significant if buildings/infrastructure are sited inappropriately or there is significant construction materials waste or poor polluting practices.

Decisions on where to set up a warehouse requires some environmental considerations such as: checking whether the warehouse/storage is prone to flooding or extreme weather events; impact on the soil/sand/ground in truck parking/offloading areas, and kitting areas during routine activities

New building construction is an opportunity to reduce construction and supply chain waste, to ensure materials are environmentally sustainable and buildings are energy efficient (insulated, use natural heating and cooling), as well as an opportunity to reuse debris/crisis waste.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Consider inclusion in warehouse construction. Can you employ more women, people from ethnic minorities, disabled people?


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Solid waste pollution from packing, surplus quantity.
Water and soil pollution from food waste, chemicals (pest management), and effluents from logistic activities.

Vegetation stripping
Drainage and groundwater recharge reduction
Damage to ecosystems
Harm to aquatic and coastal ecosystems through aggregate dredging
Unsustainable use of natural resources
Greenhouse gas emissions
Soil erosion
Air, water, and soil pollution.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Construction activities typically have significant impacts on the environment. Land clearance can remove vegetation; change topography; alter drainage and groundwater recharge; harm ecosystems, lead to deforestation and unsustainable use of other natural resources; harm aquatic and coastal ecosystems through dredging for aggregate; release greenhouse gas emissions through manufacturing cement and transport of materials; cause soil erosion through vehicle movements and soil exposure to the elements; cause air, water and soil pollution from solid, liquid and hazardous waste.

Pollution of the environment (soil, water…) by effluents and chemicals.
Pollution of the environment if the waste (plastic, food…) are not managed properly.
Stored food for distribution could also be wasted if not stored appropriately or contaminated by other hazardous material.


Summary of suggested environmental activities

Separate warehouses are recommended for food and non-food items.

Evaluate the environmental impacts of the warehouse routine activities and plan mitigation activities

When constructing new facilities, develop construction management plans to identify and reduce environmental impacts

Develop building operation, inspection and maintenance plans to reduce environmental impacts

Design buildings to reduce energy use, increase natural heating / cooling / ventilation / light / insulation.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Construct energy-efficient buildings and apply to design and construction certifications such as the Green Building Council Label as a way to improve the solutions.

Support revisions to building codes/standards for energy efficiency and promote sustainable procurement, waste reduction, and recycling.
Design buildings with flexible spaces and infrastructural solutions to facilitate adaptation to new uses, reducing the necessity of larger-scale interventions or demolishing and constructing new buildings, which always has a greater environmental impact.

Address cultural and identity issues when designing new buildings, which may include traditional aesthetic and construction techniques.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Humanitarian providers of food assistance have found that warehouse construction can create excessive solid waste and pollution. Warehouse siting and design can make food vulnerable to pests and disease, floods, fire, storm damage.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Targets for reducing waste packing included in programme logistic plan.

Agreed criteria for warehouse sustainability are met, including re-usability of all construction materials

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

This should be part of normal programme logistics routine

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