An informal consultative meeting hosted by Community World Service Asia was held online amongst the Sphere Country Focal Points in Asia on 3rd September 2021. It focused on the contextualized challenges in different countries, including the new challenges amid the pandemic, and how to overcome them.
Sphere, established in 1997, is well known for its contribution and commitment towards strengthening the quality of humanitarian assistance to affected communities across the globe. Its flagship publication, the Sphere Handbook, outlines the fundamental tenets of quality and accountability in humanitarian assistance. It is based on the core philosophy that organisations and individuals that support and assist different, vulnerable communities around the world also bear the responsibility of ensuring that the assistance they provide is of acceptable quality and that appointed resources reach affected communities in the most accountable manner.
Role of the Sphere Focal Points
The implementation of Sphere standards is promoted at country-level by experienced staff representing humanitarian and development organisations, networks, working groups as well as independent practitioners, known as Sphere Country Focal Points. The role of these focal points is to disseminate knowledge and promote the application of Sphere principles and standards around the world and more specifically in the regions that they work in. A Virtual Meet-up was held amongst the Sphere Country Focal Points in Asia on 3rd September, 2021. This informal consultative meeting had a few set discussion points and was hosted by Community World Service Asia which is the regional partner to Sphere in Asia as well as Sphere Country Focal Point in Pakistan. Participants were free to actively engage in discussion, share their experiences or just listen and learn.
Consent on most effective practices
Through this meeting, Focal Points were given an opportunity to promote open communication and learning in addition to sharing the work that focal point organisations or practitioners are doing on Sphere standards in their respective countries. The insightful discussion mainly focused on the contextualized challenges in different countries, including the new challenges amid the pandemic, and how to overcome them. All participants agreed that practices which accommodate multiple stakeholders and take into account the country’s specific contexts are the most effective. A few of the key discussions and action points deliberated in the meeting are shared here:
- Sphere focal points will develop a context and different stakeholder driven best practices/lessons learned document on quality and accountability to be shared within the region
- Language barriers for global and regional level events/virtual events need to be addressed
- Innovative and effective approaches for conducting impactful online/virtual trainings must be identified
- Experience sharing on approaches being used by Focal Points to promote Q&A
Second Meet up on November 24
Interested participants are creating a practical implementation plan based around the discussion points. This will help solidify the work and impact of quality and accountability advocacy including Sphere standards and Core Humanitarian Standard for local governments and civil society in focal point countries. The second Virtual Meet up of Sphere Country Focal Points is scheduled to be held on 24th November 2021. It is hoped that these meetups will be conducted regularly to improve quality and accountability frameworks for humanitarian agencies within the region.