New guidance on using Sphere standards in urban crises

21 December 2016 | Sphere Project

Using the Sphere Standards in Urban Settings, the latest publication in the ‘Sphere unpacked' series, fills a gap in current guidance on how to implement humanitarian standards across different contexts. The new guide is available in English, French and Spanish.

Applying humanitarian standards in urban situations has been a challenge for a long time. This guide provides practical guidance on how to do so and seeks to understand how best to integrate the requirements of urban contexts into the next edition of the Sphere Handbook.

Using Sphere in Urban SettingsUsing the Sphere Standards in Urban Settings has been driven by two realisations: (a) humanitarian response in urban situations is substantially different from that in rural areas; (b) the number and scale of urban humanitarian responses will continue to increase as a growing majority of the world's population comes to live in 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 Sphere standards.
  • A checklist guiding practitioners in their choice of standards and adaptation of the supporting indicators and actions.

The new guide is available in English, French and Spanish. An Arabic-language version will be ready in the coming weeks.

The development of Using the Sphere Standards in Urban Settings was supported by an advisory group made up of experienced practitioners who provided most of the case studies.

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

A pilot draft of Using the Sphere Standards in Urban Settings was revised in the light of comments and testing in the field. The guide was piloted during the first quarter of 2016.

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 needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation.


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