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 water for human consumption
Water distribution
Water trucking

Water trucking


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

Distribution of bowsered water should only ever be a temporary emergency activity whilst permanent sustainable safe water sources are established.

Water trucking creates environmental hazards including greenhouse gas emissions from trucks burning fossil fuels and power-pumping to refill water tanks. Trucks need maintenance and regular cleaning. Water abstraction and bowser filling require fuel for pumping and chemicals and energy for water treatment.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Air pollution associated with water trucking may particularly affect children, people with disabilities, and those with chronic health conditions.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Water pollution
Climate change
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource depletion
Soil erosion
Increased drought / flood

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Environmental impacts associated with transportation such as air pollution and extra strain on water resources.

Risk of over-abstraction of water sources.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Water trucking is only suitable for short-term interventions but is not economically feasible, nor environmentally sustainable due to the environmental impacts associated with transportation. Water can be extracted unsustainably from any source for trucking and this could impact negatively the sustainability of the source because water trucking can exert strain on the natural recharge capacity of water resources to provide water somewhere else.

Water trucking on unsealed (dirt/gravel) roads or roads not designed to handle the weight of a water tanker can damage the road. Roads in poor condition cause increased erosion and air pollution due to dust, affecting communities on the route. In addition, poorly maintained vehicles can lead to increased fuel consumption and emissions, as well as a higher risk of water pollution or leakages.

Water trucks are usually diesel-powered, and therefore emit a higher level of particulates and NO2 in exhaust fumes. Air pollution also arises from dust turned up by an increased number of passes of heavier vehicles.


Summary of environmental activities

Plan for drinking water alternatives to trucked water.

Reduce the amount of water obtained by water trucking and if implemented, include activities to mitigate environmental impacts along the route of water trucks.

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Identifying alternative water sources is a priority – changing to a more sustainable water source, whether in one go or in stages to diminish dependence on water trucking.

Groundwater levels, water flow paths, or reservoir depths should be regularly monitored at the point of water abstraction to minimize the risk of permanent source damage and/or future water scarcity.

Water trucking routes should take the most direct path while avoiding wherever possible, unsuitable roads. In addition, activities to mitigate environmental impacts along the route of water trucks, such as greenhouse gas emissions and leakage control from the trucks. This can be done by developing a preventive maintenance programme for the vehicles used in water trucking.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Most of the world’s cities struggle with high levels of air pollution from vehicles, factories, offices, households, and other activities. This includes fossil fuels used for pumping water to large populations.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

A plan for environmental impact mitigation for water trucking operations has been developed and implemented

Activity status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and money for water truck maintenance, efficient route planning and for developing alternative water sources / treatment.

Next guidance:

Water usage
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