Cover Image
close this bookTeacher's Guide on Basic Environmental Health (WHO, 1999, 327 p.)
close this folderPart Two: Sample learning activities
close this folderChapter 12: Action to protect health and the environment
View the document12.1 Problem-solving exercise: Ethical analysis for decision-making in environmental health
View the document12.2. Action planning exercise
View the document12.3. Promoting activities to identify, control and prevent environmental health problems: Identifying obstacles and resources

12.2. Action planning exercise

Time: 1-1½ hours


At the end of the exercise students will be able to:

1. Develop short-term and long-term action plans aimed at reducing the negative impact of environmental factors on health and well-being. Actions may include awareness-raising, investigation/research, and specific projects in areas related to health, environment and development.


1. Brainstorm a list of potential activities to reduce environmental health problems and promote health and well-being. These may include literature searches for supporting data/information (particularly local initiatives or prevention efforts in countries with similar problems), interviews with health professionals and policy-makers, involvement in ongoing activities of local groups and organizations, development of further studies and development of educational programmes.

2. (Optional) Incorporate discussion of obstacles and resources for action planning, as shown in Exercise 12.3.

3. Ask participants to work independently or in groups to prioritize target groups for activities (based on risk, need, interest, etc.), and contents of activities. Indicate whether any preliminary investigations or studies must be conducted.

4. Once priority areas have been established, instruct participants to use worksheets to independently plan follow-up activities that they will undertake at the end of the course or after the workshop. Establish a target date by which all follow-up activities should be completed. Participants should designate their target population, rationale for their selection, objectives and estimated timeline for implementation.

5. (Optional) Make a copy of the plans that participants hope to undertake. These can serve as a useful evaluation tool to assess participants’ increase in knowledge and analysis, and to measure the overall effectiveness of the course or workshop. Inform participants if you intend to retain copies of their plans for evaluation and follow-up.

6. When plans are complete, ask each participant to briefly present his or her future programme. Post these on flip chart paper with the following suggested headings: name, region, target audience, topic, specific plans. Record each participant’s proposal. Highlight opportunities for collaboration and sharing of materials.


Worksheets for distribution in class, flip chart.

Individual action planning worksheet

(Note to instructor: This worksheet can be adapted in various ways according to the type of activity and the time available. For example, if time is limited, participants can be asked simply to identify their area of focus, target group, objectives and the first step in their implementation plan.)


Develop a plan of action which you will undertake to identify, control and prevent environmental health problems.

Topic or area of focus

Prioritize one area for action planning, such as:

- education and training (e.g. planning a workshop, course, seminar, or study group;

- research (e.g. carrying out a literature search, interviews);

- investigating existing or missing legislation, policies, procedures;

- organizational development (e.g. establishing departments, committees, interdisciplinary working groups);

- participation in ongoing activities of local groups and organizations.


1. What are your short-term goals in the area you selected? For example, what can be done now to raise awareness and strengthen education, training and research on environmental health with the current levels of expertise and resources?

2. What are your longer-term goals? (These may require additional planning or research.) For example, what can be done to better utilize environmental risk data in advocacy for improved health policies and legislation; and how can you educate health professionals, policy-makers and the general public on their role in identifying, preventing and controlling environmental health problems?

Action steps

What action steps would you recommend in support of the activities selected?

1. What is your target population and why have you selected it? (For example, is selection based on exposure to risk, lack of prior attention to this kind of problem, interest in the issue, ability to finance or some other reason?)

2. What are your specific plans?

3. Outline the steps needed to implement your plan of action.

4. What human and financial resources are needed and how do you propose to obtain them?

5. With whom do you plan to collaborate?

6. What is your timeline? For example, what do you hope to accomplish in the next month, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years?

7. What obstacles are you likely to encounter in trying to implement this activity and how do you propose to overcome them?

8. Which of the above steps can realistically be achieved in the next 3-6 months?