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The Sphere Handbook is Sphere’s flagship publication. It comprises the Humanitarian Charter, the Protection Principles, the Core Humanitarian Standard, and minimum humanitarian standards in four vital areas of response:

  • Water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH)
  • Food security and nutrition
  • Shelter and settlement
  • Health

The Handbook is one of the most widely known and internationally recognized tools for the delivery of the quality humanitarian response. National and international NGOs, United Nations agencies, and governmental authorities across the globe make use of its guidance when planning, delivering and evaluating humanitarian operations.

  • Editions and languages

    The Sphere standards are periodically revised to make sure the Handbook reflects new evidence and evolving practice in the humanitarian sector.

    The fourth edition of the Sphere Handbook was published in 2018. Previous editions of the Sphere Handbook are available in over 30 languages.

  • Structure

    The Sphere Handbook is composed of the foundation chapters and the technical chapters which present minimum humanitarian standards in vital areas of humanitarian assistance.

    • Water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH)
    • Food security and nutrition
    • Shelter and settlement
    • Health


    • What is Sphere?



    • Humanitarian Chapter
    • Protection Principles
    • Core Humanitarian Standard


    • Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene promotion (WASH)
    • Food Security and Nutrition
    • Shelter and Settlement
    • Health

    Each of the technical chapters includes sets of standards relating to that area. The standards share a common structure: a statement of the universal standard followed by a series of key actions, key indicators, and guidance notes to achieve them in context and with the affected population.