The Sphere Handbook establishes shared principles and a set of universally acknowledged minimum standards in four life-saving areas of humanitarian response: water and sanitation, food, shelter and healthcare.
The cornerstone of the Handbook 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 practice in this sector and a practical expression of these core principles.
In the 2011 edition, the Humanitarian Charter has been completely re-written, while several standards have been significantly modified and restructured.
The new edition incorporates a stronger focus on the protection and safety of affected populations. It considers emerging issues like climate change, disaster risk reduction, disasters in urban settings, and education as well as early recovery of services, livelihoods and governance capacity of affected communities. Understanding and supporting local responses to disaster is a priority reflected in the whole Handbook, as is reinforcing the capacity of local actors.
The extensive revision that led to the 2011 edition involved a large number of individuals and organizations from the humanitarian sector, including several United Nations agencies.
The Sphere Handbook was created by a group of humanitarian non-governmental organizations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Since its first trial edition in 1998, it has been translated into more than 20 languages, becoming the most widely known and internationally recognized set of standards for humanitarian response.
Download the manual here: http://www.sphereproject.org/content/view/720/200/lang,english