Sphere standards disseminated in China

15 August 2013 | Sphere Project

The Sphere Handbook is alive and well in China. Following the launch of the simplified Chinese version of the Handbook a few months ago, a series of trainings will further raise awareness and encourage implementation of Sphere principles and standards in the world's most populous nation.

Hygiene kitOxfam Hong Kong presented the simplified Chinese version of the Sphere Handbook at a press conference in Beijing in mid-April. The occasion was chosen to mark the 5th anniversary of the devastating 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake that struck Southwest China on 12 May 2008, killing over 69 thousand people and injuring hundreds of thousands.

The Sphere Handbook, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, is one of the codes and standards that guide Oxfam HK relief work. "We hope to further advocate the minimum standards in humanitarian response in Mainland China," stated the organisation in a press release issued on that occasion.

Oxfam HK has since distributed copies of the Sphere Handbook in simplified Chinese to government officials and NGOs and in June conducted a training on Sphere standards for 17 partner organisations from the Guizhou, Yunnan and Guangxi provinces.

"We are working to find different ways when it comes to advocacy in China," says Chris Wong, Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Management Program Officer at the China Program Unit of Oxfam HK. "We recently visited the national disaster reduction unit of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and introduced the Sphere standards to them."

"We always endeavour to comply with Sphere minimum standards," Wong says. "For instance, in the operations following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Ya'an City in the Sichuan province on 20 April 2013, Sphere standards were used to design temporary latrines. Additionally, we are very careful that the food aid is culturally appropriate, such as Tibetan food in the Tibetan area, rice for southern China and wheat for northern China."

"That's why," he adds, "Sphere standards are an important component in the general humanitarian training we provide. We plan to offer more trainings to partners and volunteers in other strategic provinces like Shaanxi and Gansu in the near future."

Oxfam HK is a member of the Oxfam family. Oxfam International is one of the Sphere Project Board organisations.

Photo: Family hygiene kit prepared in accordance with guidance provided by the Sphere Handbook.

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