SPHERE Humanitarian Accountability Project 2024 - 2025

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
01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025
CHF  400’000
Background As humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises continue to rise and funding becomes increasingly scarce 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.
Objectives By establishing, promoting and reviewing minimum 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, timely and effective humanitarian responses for people affected by crises.
Target groups All humanitarian practitioners and stakeholders.
Medium-term outcomes

A) The Sphere Handbook

Objective: To increase awareness and effective use of the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards.

Core Outcomes: People responding to crisis decrease morbidity and mortality by basing decisions and actions on the principles and minimum standards in the Sphere Handbook, which provides a ‘common language’ enabling greater accountability, efficiency and coordination.

B) Strategic Partnerships

Objective: To align and promote cross-sectoral humanitarian minimum standards.

Core Outcomes: People responding to crisis have streamlined access to all humanitarian standards appropriate to their context and stage of response. The Humanitarian Standards Partnership (HSP) is a leading authority on humanitarian standards.

C) Policy & Advocacy

Objective: To advocate for greater commitment to quality and accountability in humanitarian policy and practice.

Core Outcome: Humanitarian principles and quality and accountability standards are embedded in policies and practices of organisations and authorities.

D) Champions Network

Objective: To inspire and support local ownership of humanitarian standards.

Core Outcomes: Sphere standards are locally driven, ensuring their application supports sustainable outcomes. Local actors are strengthened through their ownership and use of globally recognised humanitarian standards.


Expected results:  

A) Training courses, products and resources, especially locally-led and online, developed/updated respond to needs of practitioners. ToT events and other strategic learning initiatives supported. Digital platforms maintained so they are constantly available and up-to-date (Interactive Handbook, LMS, Sphere and HSP website).

B) Strengthened collaboration and consistency across HSP partners and partner standards including joint action realised on advocacy and coordination. Revised CHS launched and promoted.

C) Sphere standards integrated into more regional, national and sub-national disaster management and Civil Protection policies and guidelines. Documented evidence of change and impact in relation to the application of humanitarian standards shared.

D) Online and/or in-person global and/or regional focal points forum(s) to events organised and facilitated with knowledge shared and community spirit fostered. Regional initiatives (‘regional partners’) established and led by focal points with strengthened coordination, experience shared and learned among Sphere practitioners.

Results from previous phases:  

  • Mid-Term Review of the five year strategy 2021-2025 was conducted with a refocus on advocacy, digitalisation, HSP strengthening and new partnerships.
  • Translations: Sphere Handbook translations were completed in 6 languages (incl. Ukrainian). The 2018 handbook is now available in 24 languages.
  • Ukraine: Sphere completed an ambitious programme in response to the conflict in Ukraine; training workshops, outreach and the establishment of new focal points in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova and Slovakia.
  • Nature-based Solutions (NbS) guidance: with IUCN and IFRC, completion and launch of Nature-based Solutions for Climate Resilience in Humanitarian Action unpacked guide.
  • Humanitarian Standards Partnership (HSP): Sphere continued its stewardship of the HSP including overseeing translation and promotion of the HSP website in French, Spanish and Arabic.
  • Platform developments: In addition to HSP website translations, Sphere continued to develop its other digital platforms: Interactive Handbook: 1) Federated search engine; 2) multi-edition platform upgrade (for LEGS third edition); 3) chatbot prototype (staging area only). Learning management system (LMS): 1) Ukrainian interface; 2) Accessibility updates). Sphere website: Intellectual property page.
  • Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks (HNPW) 2023: Sphere operated a stand in the ‘marketplace’ and was actively involved in three highly successful events including a celebration of 25 years of Sphere standards. Further, Sphere reinforced its commitment to localisation by enabling the in-person participation of focal points from Colombia, Nepal, and Brazil in the HNPW.
  • Training of Trainers (ToT) programmes: Sphere was actively involved in regional ToTs in Poland, Indonesia and Thailand.
  • Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS) revision: contributed to the CHS revision through regular communications and management group meetings and was actively involved with the in-person regional consultations in Geneva and Bangkok.

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

Coordination with other projects and actors Sphere has >50 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    400’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    200’000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF    2’842’000 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   1’590’000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   1’990’000
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)