Environmental Impact Assessments in refugee crises

Includes examples where EIAs have been carried out in refugee situations, focussing on WASH and water supply


This helpdesk report addresses these questions:

  • Where have rapid environmental impact assessments on sustainability of water supply approaches (including identification of mechanisms for aquifer monitoring and recharge) been completed in situations of mass displacement into camps (and spontaneous sites)?
  • How have they been used by international actors to influence government land allocation decision making?

Although much of the literature found by this rapid review emphasises the necessity of including environmental considerations into the planning of mass displacement camps, and the role of environmental impact assessments (EIAs), there is little publically available literature on the assessments carried out, and the quality of these. The literature specifically highlights the role of previous humanitarian interventions in the overexploitation of groundwater resources, but specific EIAs related to this were limited. No information or evidence could be found by this review on the use of EIAs to influence land allocation decisions for refugees by Governments. Many of the EIAs reviewed were based on camp locations that had already been decided or allocated and were reactive rather than proactive. The review highlights a selection of publically accessible examples of the where EIAs (or other environmental assessments) have been carried out in refugee situations, focussing on mentions of WASH and water supply considerations within these.

K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.


Price, R.A. (2017). Environmental Impact Assessments in refugee crises. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies

Environmental Impact Assessments in refugee crises

Published 1 October 2017