The Sphere Project and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) are pleased to announce the signature of a "Companionship Agreement" between the Sphere Project, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (the Sphere Handbook) and the INEE Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies, Chronic Crises and Early Reconstruction (INEE Minimum Standards).
By this agreement, the Sphere Project acknowledges the quality of the INEE Minimum Standards, and of the broad consultative process that led to their development. As such, the Sphere Project recommends that the INEE Minimum Standards be used as companion and complementing standards to the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response.
The Sphere Project was created to improve the quality and accountability of disaster response. It has argued for the universal right of all disaster-affected people to humanitarian assistance. It has achieved NGO agreement on core principles and actions, and collected minimum programming standards for disasters from past lessons and experience. The Minimum Standards represent consensus on key technical indicators and guidance for: Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene promotion; Food Security, Nutrition and Food Aid; Shelter, Settlement and Non-Food Items; and Health Services.
The INEE Minimum Standards are both a handbook and an expression of commitment that all individuals - children, youth and adults - have a right to education during emergencies. They echo the core beliefs of the Sphere Project: that all possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of calamity and conflict, and that people affected by disaster have a right to life with dignity.
Education in emergencies is a necessity that can be both life-sustaining and life-saving, providing physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection. For an effective education response that addresses children's holistic needs, coordination and close collaboration between education and other sectors is essential - particularly Water and Sanitation, Shelter, Camp management, Health and Hygiene, Protection, Food aid and Nutrition. An inter-sectoral approach to education is even more vital in emergency contexts than in normal situations. Education in safe spaces provided for children in an emergency context, offers a means of providing a sense of normalcy, psychosocial support, and protection against harm, as well as a place for delivery of other vital services.
The use of the INEE Minimum Standards as a companion to the Sphere Handbook will help to ensure that these crucial linkages are made at the outset of an emergency - through multi-sectoral needs assessments, followed by joint planning and holistic response. Used together, the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response and the INEE Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies, Chronic Crises and Early Reconstruction will improve the quality of assistance provided to people affected by crisis, and enhance the accountability of disaster preparedness and response.
For more information on the Sphere Project, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, please go to: www.sphereproject.org
For more information on the INEE Minimum Standards, please go to: www.ineesite.org/standards