New guidance on using Sphere standards in urban settings

01 April 2016 | Sphere Project

Yangon, Myanmar, Chris MacLean/IRINOvercrowded and poor infrastructure increases urban disaster risk in Asia. Photo: Yangon, Myanmar © Chris MacLean/IRIN

Sphere for Urban Response, a new publication in the ‘Sphere unpacked' series that fills a gap in current guidance on how to implement humanitarian standards across different contexts, is now available for field testing.

Applying global humanitarian standards in urban situations has been a challenge for a long time. In the run-up to the upcoming Handbook revision, Sphere is looking into the topic to provide guidance and to understand how best to integrate the requirements of urban contexts in the next edition of the Handbook.

The development of Sphere for Urban Response has been driven by two realisations: (a) humanitarian response in urban situations is substantially different from that in rural situations; (b) the number and scale of urban humanitarian responses will continue to grow as more of the world's population move to towns and cities.

The publication has two parts, both of which deal with contextualisation of humanitarian standards to urban situations:

  • A narrative with numerous case studies exploring various urban contexts and ways to adapt global standards.
  • A checklist guiding practitioners in their choice of standards and adaptation of the supporting indicators and actions.

The development of Sphere for Urban Response was supported by an advisory group made up of experienced practitioners who provided the majority of the case studies.

The primary audiences for the guide are professionals working in needs assessment, programme design and the management of humanitarian response. It may also be useful for a wider range of staff, including government officials who find themselves confronted with a humanitarian crisis in urban areas for the first time.

The pilot draft of Sphere for Urban Response will be revised in the light of comments and testing in the field. The guide is being piloted until 15 May 2016. Anyone interested should request a copy from the Sphere Project office.

The guide is part of ‘Sphere unpacked,' a series on how to practically apply Sphere's people-centred approach in humanitarian programmes. The series discusses the use of Sphere standards in specific situations throughout the humanitarian project cycle including assessment, programming, monitoring and evaluation.

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