Cover Image
close this bookEnvironmental Impact of Sudden Population Displacements - Expert Consultation on Priority Policy Issues and Humanitarian Aid (European Commission Humanitarian Office, 1995, 28 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
close this folder2. OPENING STATEMENTS
View the document2.1. Statement by Mr. E. Thielmann (ECHO III-Brussels)
View the document2.2. Statement by Dr D. Guha-Sapir (Université Catholique de Louvain - Brussels)
close this folder3. OVERVIEW OF POLICY ISSUES
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.1. Environment and Sudden Population Displacement: Policy Issues for Humanitarian Action and Development Programmes (D. Guha-Sapir, Université Catholique de Louvain and M. Salih, Institute of Social Studies-The Hague)
View the document3.2. What Makes Emergencies Different? Interrelations of Development, Environment and Disasters (T. Cannon, University of Greenwich-London)
View the document3.3. Environmental Issues: UNHCR’s Experience and Response (R. Thiadens and H. Mori, UNHCR-Geneva)
View the document3.4. Environmental Change in Refugee Affected Areas: Research Needs and Future Directions (R. Black, University of Sussex-Brighton)
close this folder4. CASE STUDIES (SUMMARIES)
View the document4.1. Cooking Energy for Refugees: The Cases of Zaire and Kenya (A. Klingshirn and T. Hoerz, GTZ-Eschborn)
View the document4.2. Impact of Humanitarian Crises on Ecosystems (U. Bloesch, Swiss Disaster Relief-Bern)
View the document4.3. Environmental Health and Environmental Impact: Policy and Practice in Emergency Water Supply (P. Sherlock, Oxfam-Oxford)
View the document4.4. Environmental Impact of Refugees in Africa: Some Suggestions for Future Actions (Oweyegha-Afunaduula, University of Makerere-Kampala)
View the document4.5. When Refugees Stream: Environmental and Political Implications of Population Displacement (Shin-wha Lee, Harvard University-Cambridge)
View the document5. RECURRENT THEMES AND CONCERNS
close this folder6. AN APPEAL FOR URGENT POLICY ATTENTION
View the document6.1. Principle
close this folder6.2. Time framework and policy parameters
View the documenti. Preparedness Phase
View the documentii. Emergency Phase
View the documentiii. Relief Phase (care and maintenance)
close this folder6.3. Urgent policy concerns
View the documenti. Energy
View the documentii. Shelter
View the documentiii. Agriculture
View the documentiv. Site and size of settlements
View the documentv. Indigenous knowledge
View the documentvi. Research and impact assessment
close this folder6.4 Institutions, resources and technical interventions
View the documenti. Institutional issues
View the documentii. Resource competition concerns
View the documentiii. Technical issues
close this folderANNEXES
View the document1. Selected Bibliography
View the document2. List of Participants
View the document3. Support Staff
View the document4. Programme and Presentations

4.3. Environmental Health and Environmental Impact: Policy and Practice in Emergency Water Supply (P. Sherlock, Oxfam-Oxford)

There are major funding difficulties for sanitation related projects in the post-emergency phase, emanating from conflicting priorities and limited resources in implementing emergency related projects (how can you harmonise the need to save lives through adequate water and sanitation projects, and ensure that you do not cause long term damage to the environment.

Relief attracts people who may cause environmental degradation enhanced by lack of a co-ordinated inter-agency response during mass displacement crises.

Several suggestions could be put for the way forward, including:

Programme integration: in order to appreciate the overall impact of an emergency programme on the environment, planning, monitoring and evaluation of the various programme elements have to be brought together. Were there are many different agencies involved in the same programme, effective consideration of environmental impact demands strong co-ordination and a willingness on the part of the agencies to accept the role of co-ordinating bodies.

Information, preparedness and consultation: good information already exists in and about many places which are (potentially) subject to large population influxes, in the form of satellite images, aerial photographs, maps, ground surveys and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), etc.. As the data are held by a variety of bodies (government ministries, universities, local development projects, companies, NGOs and defence forces), it is often time consuming and difficult to access and assemble the relevant data when emergencies occur. Desk studies could be made on areas where population movements are likely to occur, so that a basic understanding is developed before the emergency occurs, and for short term decisions with better long term environmental consequences. This could be done by a co-ordinating body such as UNHCR or a consortium of agencies, which could then make the relevant information available to implementing bodies when needed.

Agreed procedures and minimum standards: monitoring and evaluation of programmes should take into account their negative environmental impact. This needs programme objectives and evaluation criteria to be broadened. Environmental monitoring should begin as close to the start of an emergency as is practical, and should be reported on regularly. More effective programme planning, monitoring and evaluation does demand clearer criteria for measurement, and a commitment to provide the resources needed.

More realistic planning horizons: it is generally true that temporary settlements of refugees and displaced people have lifetimes spanning years rather than months. Oxfam’s response in water supply and environmental sanitation tends to use equipment which may last for many years and to engage the communities involved in a way that produces sustainable management of the infrastructure installed.

Better site selection: the environmental impact of displaced people depends crucially on the location and size of the settlements. Dispersed settlements, whilst being more difficult to service in some cases, provide more healthy places for people to live in and have less negative impact on natural resources nearby.