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Launch of Latest Edition of Ground-Breaking Humanitarian Handbook in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – The 2011 edition of the Sphere Project’s Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response handbook was launched in Pretoria today by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and World Vision International (WVI).

The Sphere Handbook establishes shared principles and a set of universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian response. It addresses a range of topics including the protection of populations affected by disaster or armed conflict, as well as emerging issues such as climate change and disaster risk reduction.

“The Handbook is a very valuable resource”, said Paul Turnbull, WFP senior program coordinator. “It’s key in helping humanitarian partners agree on core standards and in enabling them to be implemented in emergency situations."

"The Handbook is an excellent tool that helps achieve greater quality and accountability in our work”, added Walter Middleton, WVI vice president for food security and livelihoods. "Every organization involved in such endeavours should put it to use as it offers excellent guidance."

The extensive revision of the Sphere Handbook that led to the 2011 edition involved more than 650 experts from some 300 organisations in about 20 countries. The launch of the Handbook in Pretoria was synchronised with launches in more than a dozen countries around the world.

The Sphere Project was created by a group of humanitarian non-governmental organisations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Since its first trial edition in 1988, the Sphere Handbook has been translated into more than 40 languages, becoming the most widely known and internationally recognised set of standards for humanitarian response.

The cornerstone of the Handbook is the Humanitarian Charter which describes principles that should govern humanitarian action and asserts the right of disaster-affected populations to life with dignity, protection and assistance. For the new edition, the Humanitarian Charter has been completely re-written in clearer, more accessible language.

About WFP USA

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, reaching more than 80 million people in 75 countries with food assistance last year. World Food Program USA builds support for WFP through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States.

wfpusa.org