Sphere Handbook - new edition

Available since June 2011


“The Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards will not of course stop humanitarian crises from happening, nor can they prevent human suffering. What they offer, however, is an opportunity for the enhancement of assistance with the aim of making a difference to the lives of people affected by disaster” Ton van Zutphen, Sphere Board Chair and John Damerell, Sphere Project Manager in the Foreword to the new edition of the Handbook.

What's new in the 2011 edition of the Sphere Handbook


The new edition of the Sphere Project's Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response Handbook was published in English in April 2011and the French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic languages will be available in June 2011. The new version updates the qualitative and quantitative indicators and guidance notes and improves the overall structure and consistency of the text.

The aim wasn't to change the qualitative standards or to overhaul the Handbook, however, once Sphere began the revision process it became clear that a more substantial revision was required. The new version of the Handbook has:

  • a rewritten Humanitarian Charter
  • updated common standards
  • a stronger focus on protection
  • revised technical chapters

As with all versions of the Handbook, revising it was a broadly consultative process and the changes were based on a consensus.


  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • What is Sphere?
  • The Humanitarian Charter
  • Protection Principles
  • The Core Standards
  • Minimum Standards in Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion
  • Minium Standards in Food Security and Nutrition
  • Minimum Standards in Shelter, Settlement and Non-Food Items
  • Minimum Standards in Health Action
  • Annexes
  • Annex 1. Key Documents that inform the Humanitarian Charter
  • Annex 2. The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief
  • Annex 3. Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Index

Order all language editions and bulk packs of 20 here

Please note that all other past Sphere Project publications and training materials are now ‘out of print’ while new training materials are being developed. All enquiries for training materials should be directed to Sphere Project 



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