Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Sphere Companion

Why Establish an INEE-Sphere Companionship Agreement?

Education in emergencies is a necessity that can be both life-sustaining and life-saving, providing physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection. For an effective education response that addresses children’s holistic needs, coordination and close collaboration between education and other sectors is essential - particularly Water and Sanitation, Shelter, Camp Management, Health and Hygiene, Protection, Food aid and Nutrition. An inter-sectoral approach to education is even more vital in emergency contexts than in normal situations. Education in safe spaces provided for children in an emergency context, offers a means of providing a sense of normalcy, psychosocial support, and protection against harm, as well as a place for delivery of other vital services.

The use of the INEE Minimum Standards as a companion and complementary standards to the Sphere Handbook will help to ensure that these crucial linkages are made at the outset of an emergency - through multi-sectoral needs assessments, followed by joint planning and holistic response. Used together, the Sphere Handbook and the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook will improve the quality of assistance provided to people affected by crisis, and enhance the accountability of disaster preparedness and response. To read the joint INEE-Sphere Project Press Release, please click here.

For more detailed information on the background of the Sphere-INEE Companionship Agreement, read the joint paper “Integrating Quality Education With Humanitarian Response For Humanitarian Accountability: The Sphere-INEE Companionship” published jointly by The Sphere Project and INEE in September 2009.


What Does the Companionship Entail?

Through the Companionship Agreement, INEE and the Sphere Project “recognize that education in emergencies is a necessity that can be both life-sustaining and life-saving, providing physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection. Education in emergencies is an integral component of humanitarian aid alongside assistance in water and sanitation, health, nutrition, shelter and protection. The right to education is both a human right, which applies even in emergencies, and an enabling right, allowing people to exercise their other rights, such as the right to health and the right to life with dignity.”


Components of the renewed INEE-Sphere Companionship Agreement (2012-2014) include the following activities:

  • Close communications and collaboration at all levels, including among Sphere Board and INEE Steering Group members.
  • Inclusion of the INEE logo on the Sphere Handbook and vice versa.
  • Explicit reference to the INEE-Sphere Companionship Agreement will be added to the back cover of both Handbooks.


Components of the original Sphere-INEE Companionship Agreement (2008-2011) included the following activities:

  • An icon depicting education, compatible with those used in the Sphere Project Handbook, was included on the cover of INEE Minimum Standards Handbook. The Sphere Project used this same icon when promoting the relationship with the INEE Minimum Standards.
  • In the update process for both Handbooks (2009/2010), guidance pertaining to the INEE Minimum Standards was mainstreamed throughout the core chapters of the Sphere Project Handbook and vice-versa to include references wherever relevant during the next revision of both publications.
  • In its capacity as Focal Point for Education in the Sphere Handbook Revision Process, the INEE Secretariat developed an online survey in August 2009 to gather information on how education should be represented in the 2011 revised edition of the Sphere Handbook. Read the survey report here.
  • A statement highlighting the formal relationship between The Sphere Project and INEE was included on the front cover of the INEE Minimum Standards Handbook.
  • Information on the Companionship was included in all official communications channels and tools.
  • Information on the Sphere Standards was incorporated in INEE Minimum Standards trainings/TOTs and training materials, and vice versa.


Additional Sphere Companion Standards

There are two other companion standards to the Sphere Handbook: the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network’s Minimum Economic Recovery Standards and the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS). Companion standards share a similar rights-based approach and are developed in a broad consultative and consensus-based manner. They are meant to provide humanitarian professionals with a pool of harmonized sets of quality standards that are easy to use and refer to.

Submit a Case Study

In July 2009, INEE Issued a listserv message titled "Moving Forward the Sphere and INEE Companionship: Call for Case Studies on Inter-sectoral Approaches to Education." As part of the operationalization of the Sphere-INEE Companionship agreement, this initiative aims to build an evidence base which all members can use to inform policy, advocacy, tools, training and best practices. Click here to read and participate in call.


Other materials promoting the INEE-Sphere Companionship Agreement:


For more information on the INEE-Sphere Companionship Agreement, please contact