AUTHOR: The Sphere Project


TYPE OF TOOL: Handbook

KEYWORDS: humanitarian action, environmental management, The Sphere Project, handbook, risk reduction, shelter, water, restoration

FORMATS: Handbook available for purchase in 18 languages; open-access website available in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish; Training modules in English

LANGUAGES: Arabic, Armenian, Bangla, Braille (English), Chinese (Simplified), English, French, German, Haitian Creole, Indonesian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Russian, Sinhala, Slovenian, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Vietnamese

WEB LINKS: (handbook); (web site)

ABOUT THE TOOL: The Sphere Handbook: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, is one of the most widely known and internationally recognized sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in life-saving areas of humanitarian response.  The Sphere Handbook is designed for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation during humanitarian response. It is also an effective advocacy tool when negotiating for humanitarian space and for the provision of resources with authorities. Furthermore, it is useful for disaster preparedness activities and contingency planning, with donors increasingly including the standards in their reporting requirements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: In 1997, a group of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement initiated the Sphere Project.  The Sphere Project is a voluntary initiative that brings a wide range of humanitarian agencies together around a common aim–to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance and the accountability of humanitarian actors to their constituents, donors and affected populations.  They based Sphere’s philosophy on two core beliefs: first, that those affected by disaster or conflict have a right to life with dignity and, therefore, a right to assistance; and second, that all possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of disaster or conflict.

INTENDED USER: The principal users of the Sphere Handbook are practitioners involved in planning, managing or implementing a humanitarian response. This includes staff and volunteers of local, national and international humanitarian agencies. In the context of fund-raising and project proposals, the minimum standards are also frequently referred to. Other actors, such as government and local authorities, the military or the private sector, are also encouraged to use the Sphere Handbook. It may be useful in guiding their own actions, but also in helping them to understand the standards used by the humanitarian agencies with whom they may interact.