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

Essential Healthcare - Mental health care
Essential Healthcare - Mental health care
Working with community members, including marginalised people, to strengthen community self-help and social support

Working with community members, including marginalised people, to strengthen community self-help and social support


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

Man-made and so-called natural hazards can cause significant amounts of destruction impacting the environment, livelihoods, and health of the population as well as their psychological wellbeing. Additionally, environmental factors following a traumatic event include recurring exposure to upsetting reminders of the trauma, additional adverse life events, financial or other losses related to the trauma. Inappropriate social support post-trauma can also impact someone recovering from a hugely traumatic event.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

People who are living with disabilities, chronic health conditions, terminal illness, disabilities, loneliness, social exclusion, conflict, discrimination, and displacement are all significantly more likely to require mental health support.


Environmental impact categories

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

Summary of Impacts
Potential environmental impacts
  • Community visits could cause pollution from vehicles and solid waste production.
  • Community activities may be polluting the air, soil, and water, or spreading disease.
Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Working with community members can impact the environment directly. This includes pollution from vehicles, solid waste production from any resources distributed, and even unintentional communication of environmentally harmful coping mechanisms such as suggestions to implement community projects without considering the impacts on the environment and natural resources.

Community activities may be polluting the air, soil, and water, or spreading disease.


Summary of environmental activities
  • Community environmental cleanups
  • Community assessment of environmental drivers of health including mental health
  • Creation or restoration of green spaces
  •  Assess environmental impacts of health activities
  •  Use clean or fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Removal of any waste materials created by health response activities
  • Review messaging through an environmental lens
  • Assess community environmental behaviour impacts on mental health
Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities
  • Working with community members, including marginalised people, to strengthen community self-help and social support can include environmental activities to increase a sense of community through teamwork and create a better environmental space for the affected population. Green recreational space can often be associated with better psychological health, including reduced amounts of stress and anxiety.
  • The environmental impacts of health service delivery should always be assessed and reduced wherever possible. This means using electric, hybrid, or biodiesel fuelled vehicles if possible, or modern fuel-efficient, well-maintained vehicles others. Any waste materials generated by health service delivery should be taken back by workers to a facility where they can be properly recycled or disposed of. All community messaging should be reviewed through an environmental lens to ensure messages are not inadvertently communicating environmentally harmful messages.
  • Community behaviours should be assessed and health messaging should include the benefits of changing any harmful behaviours that pollute, spread disease or that could be detrimental to mental health.
Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Many humanitarian responders now coordinate community health visits to minimise the total number of journeys.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples
  • # of green spaces created with the intention of improving community wellbeing
  • # of community designed activities that are designed to improve relationships and wellbeing
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities
  • Prevention of environmental damage
  • Mitigation of environmental damage
  • Environmental enhancement
Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)
  • Time and resources to assess health response environmental impacts, community environmental behaviours that may affect mental health, and to design interventions, including clean up or creation of green spaces.

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