SPHERE Humanitarian Accountability Project 2023

Project completed

Sphere is a diverse global community that brings together frontline practitioners, humanitarian agencies, community organisations, trainers, donors, policy makers, government agencies and affected communities around a common goal – to improve the resilience of, and outcomes for, people affected by disaster and crisis. The Sphere Handbook is one of the most widely known and internationally recognised sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in humanitarian response.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Humanitarian efficiency
Protection, access & security
01.01.2023 - 31.12.2023
CHF  150’000
Background As humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises continue to rise, it continues to be crucial to promote and protect the right of life with dignity. All humanitarian actors need to be more accountable to what they do, while humanitarian assistance needs to be principled and standardized to ensure the most timely and effective assistance in humanitarian response. Not doing so risks result in programmes that fail to adequately address priority needs.
Objectives By establishing, promoting and reviewing standards for humanitarian action, Sphere provides an accountable and quality framework for preparedness, resource allocation, response, monitoring and advocacy, before, during and after disasters and crises. The consistent application of this framework by humanitarian organisations and practitioners results in appropriate, timelyand effective humanitarian responses for people affected by crises.
Target groups All humanitarian practitioners and stakeholders.
Medium-term outcomes

The strategic priorities for 2021-2025 are:

1)    Sphere standards: Promote increased awareness, understanding, uptake, accessibility, localisation, ownership and review of Sphere standards across diverse contexts globally.

2)    Sphere community: Enhance the ownership and application of Sphere standards by expanding, diversifying and strengthening the global Sphere community of purpose and practice, and deepening engagement across the Sphere network.

3)    Humanitarian standards: Promote and facilitate collaboration and best practice across humanitarian standards to ensure quality and accountability in the sector and better respond to the needs of users and communities. Influence the inclusion of humanitarian standards in national, global and donor policies, to enhance economies of scale and promote institutionalisation.

4)    Accountability, evidence, impact and learning: Encourage accountability and learning, and better understand and articulate the evidence for and impact of Sphere standards.


Expected results:  

a.    Integration of Sphere standards into more regional, national and sub national disaster management and Civil Protection policies and guidelines.

b.    Strengthened CHS with improved clarity and accessibility, addressing critical gaps.

c.    Review Sphere’s work in the context of the mid-term strategy review and update workplan accordingly for 2024-2025, including establishing the groundwork for a regional operating model (Europe, Africa, LAC, MENA, Asia).

d.    Better structure the engagement of the Sphere network – members, focal points, trainers – to build on insights and ownership from national and local organisations.

e.    Continues support of locally led initiatives on standards dissemination, uptake and contextualisation.

f.    Deliver Sphere MOOC in Spanish.

g.    Organise a ToT programme for Francophone Africa, building on success and momentum of 2022 MOOC in French.

Results from previous phases:  

-    Translations: Sphere Handbook translations were completed in Lingala, Congo Swahili, Tshiluba, Hungarian, Traditional Chinese and Dari. The 2018 handbook is available in 21 languages.

-    Sphere for local authorities: Sphere worked with its network to leverage their expertise and insights on embedding standards in national and local government policies. Sphere standards are reflected in national policies of 11 countries (incl. Ecuador, Chile, Indonesia, Pakistan, Guatemala).

-    Humanitarian Standards Partnership (HSP): The first HSP website was launched. The SEADS Project became new HSP member, with their standards for supporting crop-related livelihoods in emergencies.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
  • Other international or foreign NGO North

Other partners
Coordination with other projects and actors

Sphere has 45 members (international / national NGOs) and network organisations.

Sphere’s key partners are the Humanitarian Standards Partnership (HSP), the CHS Alliance, Groupe URD, ICVA and H2H.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    150’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    150’000 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   1’590’000
Project phases Phase 13 01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025   (Current phase)

Phase 12 01.01.2023 - 31.12.2023   (Completed)

Phase 10 01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021   (Completed) Phase 9 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2017   (Completed)