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Promoting accountability in the humanitarian aid sector together

Transparency International-Kenya (TI-Kenya) and the Sphere Project have today launched two humanitarian handbooks to enhance accountability and effectiveness in humanitarian aid.

The event is jointly hosted by the Inter-Agency Working Group for Disaster Preparedness (IAWG); the IAWG provides a forum for regional organisations to enhance coordination and information exchange in order to respond to humanitarian crises in a timely and efficient manner. The IAWG and its sub-working groups support a number of strategic regional partnerships, including the Sphere Project, Humanitarian Accountability Project, People in Aid, Emergency Capacity Building (ECB) and the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (CBHA). For more information on the IAWG please visit

‘Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Operations’ published by the Transparency International- Secretariat in Berlin, Germany identifies the types of corruption that occur during humanitarian operations. In a userfriendly format, the handbook summarises the policies, good practices and tools that can be used by humanitarian aid providers to prevent, detect and mitigate corruption.

‘The Sphere 2011 handbook, ‘Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response’ establishes shared principles and a set of universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian response. The 2011 edition incorporates a new chapter – Protection Principles – which considers the protection and safety of populations affected by disaster or armed conflict as an integral part of humanitarian response. It also addresses emerging issues like climate change, disaster risk reduction, early recovery of services and livelihoods, cash transfers and civil-military relations.

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 1998, 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 core 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 so as to offer clearer language and strengthened linkage to the standards. A series of Core and Minimum Standards are based on best practices in the sector. The Core Standards pertain to the planning and implementation phases of humanitarian response. The Minimum Standards deal with four sets of life-saving activities: water and sanitation; food security and nutrition; shelter and non-food items; and health. They have all been significantly revised in the new edition.

The Sphere Project, a unique voluntary initiative, is a consortium of humanitarian actors including some of the biggest and oldest organisations and agencies in this sector. It aims to improve the quality of humanitarian response to disasters or armed conflicts and the accountability of states and humanitarian agencies to their constituents, donors and affected populations.

Humanitarian aid in Kenya

Humanitarian aid is not a new concept in Kenya. Drought and floods are a common phenomenon in the country and often the government and humanitarian aid agencies have to reach out to those affected. Good governance in humanitarian aid is imperative to ensure equitable access to relief supplies by those in need.

“TI-Kenya believes that addressing corruption is an integral element in humanitarian aid accountability, quality assurance and equitable access.” said Samuel Kimeu, Executive Director, TI-Kenya during the launch.

Humanitarian assistance given by the government and international community is by no means meagre. However, unscrupulous individuals have taken advantage of loopholes in the humanitarian assistance chain to divert resources. The most damaging impact of corruption is the diversion of basic resources meant for the underprivileged and those in distress.

In the past five years, Transparency International has worked in partnership with research institutions and humanitarian actors to enhance integrity and accountability in the design and implementation of humanitarian operations. TI has also worked with a number of leading international humanitarian nongovernmental organisations (Action Aid, CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Lutheran World Federation, Save the Children USA and World Vision International) to discuss corruption risks they face in their work and to facilitate the identification and sharing of best practices in combating those risks, as well as of policy and practice gaps.

TI-Kenya, the Sphere Project and the Inter-Agency Working Group hope that aid workers will find the handbooks of great utility in improving the quality of humanitarian response to disasters or armed conflicts.

For any press enquiries please contact

Sheila Masinde
Transparency International Kenya
T: +254 (0)20 272 77 63, 0722 296589, 07333 834659
F: +254 (0)20 2729530
E: [email protected]

Philip Wijmans, Country Representative Lutheran World Federation Kenya (Djibouti)

T: +254 (0)73 3515383, 0723115737, 0732818181
E: [email protected]

Maxine Clayton, IAWG co-chair
E: [email protected]