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Environmental assessment


Maps to support the process and outputs of an environmental assessment undertaken in the context of a humanitarian emergency.

Strategic or operational?


Basemap, baseline or situational?


When might it be produced?

Rapid environmental assessments may be undertaken as part of the response to a potential or actual release of a pollutant that could cause large-scale human impact. This may be due to a specific technological/industrial accident, or where an elevated hazard is assumed due to a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake. Such assessments may be coordinated by the Joint United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/OCHA Environment Unit.

Intended audience

While maps may be produced for specific technical users, maps will more generally be required for non-technical audiences, including humanitarian agencies and the potentially affected population themselves.

Influence on humanitarian decisions

The identification of a potential threat from environmental pollutants may in certain cases be serious enough to drive decisions about the evacuation of vulnerable populations. In very severe situations such as the release of highly toxic materials, mapping may also be needed to enable responding agencies to operate safely.

  • Assessment outputs to be mapped will typically include potential or actual sources of pollution, and sensitive ‘receptors’ such as communities, water sources or agricultural assets.
  • Be cautious about inferring any predictive models of pollutant transport and dispersal; however it may certainly be relevant and useful to include generalised annotations such as river flow and prevailing wind directions.

  • Relevant baseline data of potential ‘receptors’ including populations, agriculture.
  • Watercourses and water bodies.
  • Locations of potentially polluting features such as industrial facilities, chemical storage sites etc
  • Where groundwater pollution may be involved: geological mapping and, if available, aquifers.
  • Landuse data such as as Modis or GlobCover.

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