Why is it important?

Despite intent for mitigating environmental impact of settlement programmes during design and construction, in the absence of understanding the way that the settlement’s facilities will be used and ensuring that expected procedures are adhered to, it cannot be guaranteed that environmental benefits will be realized. This relates to all aspects of camp operation including water use, sanitation, solid waste management, energy use, shelter use and livelihoods.

Environmental Impact

Water Availability

For environmental impact from incorrect use of settlement facilities, please see the impact sections of each infrastructure service stream in the Design section.

Mitigation Strategies


It must be ensured that settlement occupiers adhere to the restrictions of water rights negotiated with local government and host communities.

During operation, water access points need to be protected from natural or human-induced damage (accidental or malicious) and equitable access for all must be enforced. Awareness should be raised regarding the prevention of water-logging of soil in areas surrounding collection points.

Furthermore, occupants need to be made aware of, and if necessary trained on, water-saving and hygiene practices (such as regular hand and raw food washing). Awareness must be raised of the need and ways for water conservation (e.g. collective cooking), and preservation of water quality by keeping drinking water, greywater and blackwater separate.


Training in the use of rainwater harvesting devices and point-of-use (POU) technologies should be offered to household receiving tem. Regarding the latter, knowing when such technologies are no longer treating water sufficiently and are in need of replacement is also very important.


Equipment for transportation, distribution and delivery of water (incl. pipework, pumps, taps) needs to be regularly maintained. Clearly assigned responsibilities and a bottom up reporting system will ensure that water users are able to report damages, leaking or problematic equipment along the network.


Activities should be planned for raising awareness of deforestation effects of firewood collection and health impacts of indoor air pollution associated with charcoal and fuelwood burning in non-efficient cookstoves.

For reduction of fuel demand, collective cooking should also be encouraged. This can be in the form of multi-family cooking or institutional cooking where food is cooked in a single location and distributed out. This can also simplify the promotion and distribution of fuel-efficient stoves and of alternative cooking fuels to firewood. Energy-saving practices should also be promoted such as:

  • Firewood preparation (cutting and splitting of firewood, use of dry wood)
  • Fire management (shielding the fire, controlling air supply, simmering food, putting out fires right away)
  • Diet and food preparation (preferring fresh foods, soaking dried foods, milling or pounding hard grains, using traditional tenderisers such as ash)
  • Cooking management (building a cooking shelter, choosing pot type depending on quick cooking or keeping food hot, use of tight lids with weight on top, ‘double cooking’: stacking pots on top of each other, adding liquid bit by bit until enough, not over cleaning outside of pots, using fireless cookers or ‘haybaskets’.
  • Distribution of blankets and warm clothes to lower the need for heating
  • Encouragement of outdoor cooking to reduce build-up of heat indoors in hot climates.

Awareness should be raised of the risks associated with improper disposal of batteries, and battery collection points should be marked clearly.


Training is needed on the correct use, and later on the manufacture and distribution of locally appropriate, fuel-efficient cookstoves. Also, training is needed on the correct processing of bioresources, bioresidues and biofuels for use as alternative fuels (e.g. briquetting).

Training should be provided on the correct use, charging and maintenance of micro-solar devices such as solar lanterns.

Settlement occupants can be trained and employed in forest management programmes including agroforestry techniques.


The decentralized nature of energy technologies implies greater outreach to ensure that their owners are using and maintaining the devices correctly. Furthermore, it should be ensured that locally available options exist for servicing, procurement of parts or replacement.


Open defecation should be strongly discouraged. The Total Sanitation Campaign, which originated in India, has found good results and entire areas declared as open-defecation free zones, through community driven activities which use peer pressure and shame to break the open-defecation habit.


Families should be trained in correct use of latrines (pit latrines or Eco-san toilets) and, if applicable, correct processing/disposal of waste produced.

Training can be given and responsibilities assigned towards monitoring the quality of raw water, waste water streams and treated water.

Awareness-raising and training should be offered on the correct use of bi-products of wastewater treatment for agricultural purposes (fertilisers, soil conditioner, natural pesticides), construction (sand, silt, gravel) or fuel supply (niogas).


Measures should be put in place to ensure the maintenance and correct operation of tanks, pumps, blowers, screens, grinders, and other mechanical components of wastewater treatment.

Procedures should be put in place for the cleaning, maintenance and repair of toilet facilities.

  • Awareness-raising of the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling resources.
  • Awareness-raising of the hazards associated with toxic waste, proper storage and disposal avenues.
  • Awareness of the agreed arrangement for use of any existing local landfill facilities, and the importance of adhering to it to prevent conflict with host communities.
Training & maintenance
  • An inclusive recycling scheme should offer income-generating opportunities, incentivising the recycling of waste.
  • Composting of organic waste, landfill-site management and recycling scheme management as an income generating opportunity.

Help people transition away from environmentally harmful livelihoods, and offer sustainable alternatives. Also offer employment opportunities within the settlement and within activities around the settlement for improving environmental conditions (such as tree planting).

Reduce impact from environmentally harmful livelihoods

Provide structures and procedures for ensuring the separation, recycling or safe disposal of waste; particularly toxic waste from businesses. Provide training for businesses and awareness-raising in schools to ensure that people are sensitized to environmental impact, and that they are aware of waste treatment procedures.

Provide training to businesses on the use and benefits of energy efficient, or renewable energy devices.

Introduce agroforestry methods (combination of growing trees with shrubs, crops and/ or livestock) which can enable the continuation of agricultural practices and animal rearing without deforestation.

Livestock activity management

Raise awareness of environmental impact mitigation strategies or lifestock activity, including:

  • grazing and herding contracts;
  • use of local knowledge and grazing patterns;
  • limitation of herd/flock size;
  • sale of animals; and
  • designation of grazing areas.
Provide income-generating opportunities

Provide employment opportunities to help in the running of the settlement, including teaching, health workers etc. Make sure that employment situations are legal, especially when refugees are not citizens of the country the settlement is based in.

Assess skills of beneficiaries and devise ways in which they can be employed in environmental protection activities. Such activities include forestry management, water management, equipment maintenance, waste disposal, recycling, surveys and reporting. Involve neighboring communities as well ensures that everyone benefits from these activities and that the local environment is protected as a whole. These can also improve relationships between communities.

Managing forestry, water resources and waste streams as effective income generating activities can improve relationships between local and displaced populations as well as between humanitarian and government organisations.

Additional Resources

For additional information please see relavent sections of the Design section.