On 14th and 15th April, the English version of the Sphere Handbook was released in about a dozen countries around the world, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia.
The Sphere Handbook was launched in 1997 by NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. It is now a widely known and internationally recognised set of standards in four life-saving areas of humanitarian response: water and sanitation, food, shelter and healthcare.
Its cornerstone is the Humanitarian Charter, which describes core principles that govern humanitarian action and asserts the right of populations to life with dignity, protection and assistance. The minimum standards are a compilation of best practices in this sector and a practical expression of these core principles.
In the 2011 edition, the Humanitarian Charter has been completely re-written, while chapters on minimum standards have been significantly restructured.
This edition incorporates a new chapter on the protection and safety of affected populations. It considers emerging issues like climate change, disaster risk reduction, urban disasters and education. The early recovery of services, livelihoods and governance capacity of affected communities is also addressed. Understanding and supporting local responses is an underlying priority for the whole Handbook, as is reinforcing the capacity of local actors.
The extensive revision that led to the 2011 edition involved more than 650 experts from over 300 organisations from the humanitarian sector, including several United Nations agencies.