Front cover



About the Minimum Standards for Camp Management


1. Site management policies and capacities

2. Community participation and representation

3. Site environment

4. Site service coordination and monitoring

5. Exit and transition

Annex 1 – Disability inclusion monitoring checklist

References and further reading

Acronyms and abbreviations


About the Minimum Standards for Camp Management

1In a humanitarian crisis, camps and camp-like settings are often the only places where internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees can seek protection and assistance.

These Minimum Standards for Camp Management describe the minimum actions needed to support meaningful engagement within a site as well as planning and coordination between sectors and agencies. They aim to clarify the role of any site management agency working on a daily basis in humanitarian settings and to set out minimum levels of quality of that work. Although called the Minimum Standards for Camp Management, the standards apply to all contexts where displaced people seek shelter, protection and other support, and the term “site” is used unless a specific camp context is meant.

The standards are based on the fundamental belief that the rights of all displaced persons must be respected and their needs met in a way that supports their dignity.

The need for a set of standards to measure the quality of work done by an SMA is long overdue. In 2002, key SMAs and field practitioners acknowledged the lack of agreement on common standards and policies and the proven inadequate levels of assistance and protection. They recognised the need for shared guidelines and tools in camp management, resulting in the 2004 Camp Management Toolkit. Today, 1the toolkit is a well-recognised reference of comprehensive knowledge and lessons learned related to site management. Other guides and handbooks followed, notably the 2010 UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Handbook for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons1. More recent demand from field practitioners, together with the main aims of global clusters to develop effective common policy frameworks, led to the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster starting a project in 2016 to establish minimum sectoral standards.

The resulting Minimum Standards for Camp Management are the outcome of wide consultation in the field, online surveys, focus group discussions, desk reviews and expert advice. Displaced people, leading operational partners and government1 counterparts were all actively consulted to input to the standards. Recognising that camps and other displacement settings are part of a larger ecosystem of humanitarian response1, the Standards refer to existing guidance documents both in the CCCM technical sector, like the Camp Management Toolkit and the Handbook for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons and core Humanitarian Standards Partnership resources, including The Sphere Handbook1. In doing so, they guide people working in displacement settings in what to expect from CCCM professionals and support site managers who may be new to the sector.

Who are the Minimum Standards for Camp Management aimed at?

2The primary target audience for these standards is site managers and their teams, that is, staff who work in displacement sites on a daily basis.

They are also intended for use by others working with displaced people in the places where they live. This includes those working directly and daily with displaced people, planners and policymakers, technical specialists, coordinators, donors, academics and those working on advocacy, media or communications.

Different organisational approaches to site management may be needed to realise these minimum standards, depending on context. Recognising this, these standards use the generic term “site management agency” (SMA) to refer to the full range of different site team structures. These include:

  • the traditional camp management agency, which organises the governance structures1 of displaced communities and coordinates the assistance and services provided by humanitarian or other organisations (such as private entities and local authorities);

  • the mobile camp management agency, which relies on adapting CCCM responses to scattered, numerous and less structured sites where the permanent presence of a camp management agency is not feasible or desirable. The agency works closely with the displaced persons living in these sites to organise a multi-sectoral response to their needs. It focuses mainly on managing and coordinating communal sites of different sizes and dispersed locations, making sure site residents participate in managing the response. If needed, it can also target broader populations living in any given area to ensure an area-based coordinated response; and

  • site management support, which is provided to a national, state or designated government counterpart or appointed local organisation, where additional support is needed. The site management support team provides support to strengthen the capacities of the appointed site management so they can deliver on their roles and responsibilities. This can include supporting, for example, in day-to-day coordination and monitoring of assistance and service provision; training and skills building, including by providing appropriate tools; and with relevant equipment.

The structure of the standards

The Minimum Standards for Camp Management share a common structure, similar to other humanitarian standards, to support the reader in understanding the universal statement (the minimum standard), followed by a series of key actions, key indicators and guidance notes to achieve them.

  • The minimum standards are derived from the principle of the rights of displaced people. These are general and qualitative in nature, stating the minimum to be achieved in any crisis.

  • Key actions outline practical steps to achieve the minimum standard. These are suggestions and may not apply in all contexts. The practitioner should select the most relevant for the situation.

  • Key indicators serve as signals to measure whether the standard is being reached. They provide a way to capture process and programme results against the standard and over the life of the response. Minimum quantitative requirements are the lowest acceptable level of achievement for indicators and are only included where there is sectoral consensus.

  • Guidance notes provide additional information to support the key actions, with cross-references to other standards, guidance and tools.

Working with the key indicators

The key indicators are a way to measure whether a standard is being achieved and should not be confused with the standard itself. The standard is universal, but the key indicators, like the key actions, should be developed further depending on the context and phase of the response.

There are three types of indicators:

  • process indicators check whether a minimum requirement has been achieved;

  • progress indicators provide the unit of measurement to monitor achieving the standard. They should be used to set baselines, set targets with partners and stakeholders, and monitor changes towards that target; and

  • target indicators are targets which represent the quantifiable minimum below which the standard is not being met. These should be reached as soon as possible, as falling short will compromise the overall programme.

The standards use both quantitative and qualitative indicators across all domains. Indicators measuring qualitative information, such as satisfaction or perception indicators, are included to strengthen accountability especially to site populations, and to help drive and develop programmatic changes that SMAs need to make to meet the standards.

Sex, age and disability disaggregated data, at a minimum, allows programme managers and decision-makers to examine service delivery, treatment and service outcomes in-depth. Further disaggregation may be needed depending on the context.

What is meant by ``minimum'' and what happens if that cannot be met?

3The Minimum Standards for Camp Management are based on the fundamental belief that the rights of all displaced persons must be respected and their needs met in a way that supports their dignity. In doing this, these standards are minimum standards and remain constant. However, the key actions and indicators need to be adapted to be meaningful in the operational setting, and with the input of the site population, whether displaced or host communities1. The context will also change throughout the site lifecycle, so their appropriateness should be reviewed over time.

SMAs should always strive to exceed these minimums, and to address as many groups and their particular needs as possible. It cannot be assumed that assistance is a neutral activity which affects everyone equally. The context and manner in which assistance is delivered impacts on whether the human rights and needs of affected persons are being respected and fulfilled. A human rights-based approach, therefore, provides the framework and necessary standards for humanitarian assistance activities.

In cases where the standards are not met, any proposal to reduce the minimum requirements should be evaluated carefully. SMAs should lead a process to collectively agree to any reductions and to report the shortfall in actual progress against the minimums. These should be agreed by displaced people, host communities, organisations working in the site and other key stakeholders. Humanitarian organisations must also assess the negative impact on the population when not meeting a standard and take steps to minimise any harm. SMAs should use this response gap for advocacy and strive to reach the indicators as soon as possible.

Using the standards in context

Humanitarian responses take place in many different contexts. Several factors will influence how the standards can be applied in the operating environment to support the right to life with dignity. These include:

  • the setting in which humanitarian response is being delivered;

  • the differences across populations and diversity among people;

  • the operational and logistical realities that will affect how and what kind of humanitarian response is delivered; and

  • the baselines and indicators that are appropriate to the context – with key terms defined and targets set.

Culture, language, the capacity of responders, security, access, environmental conditions and resources will influence the response. It is also important to anticipate any potential negative effects of the response and act to limit these. The Minimum Standards for Camp Management are a voluntary code for quality and accountability1, designed to encourage the broadest possible use and ownership of the standards. They are not a “how-to” guide but a description of what must be in place as a minimum4 for people to recover and rebuild from a crisis with dignity. Conforming to the standards does not mean implementing all key actions or meeting all key indicators of all standards. The degree to which an organisation can meet the standards will depend on a range of factors, some of which are beyond their control. Lack of access to the affected population, or political or economic insecurity, may make achieving the standards impossible. In cases where the minimum requirements exceed the living conditions of the host community, SMAs need to assess how to reduce potential tensions, such as by offering community-based services. In some situations, national authorities may establish minimum requirements that are higher than the standards.

Links with other standards

The Minimum Standards5 for Camp Management do not cover all aspects of humanitarian assistance that support the right to life with dignity. Partner organisations have developed complementary standards in several sectors, based on the same philosophy and commitments as this set of standards. These are available through Sphere, the Humanitarian Standards Partnership and its partner organisations’ own websites.

Complementary standards to the Minimum Standards for Camp Management

Source: Wan Sophonpanich / IOM 2020

  • The Sphere Handbook;2 Humanitarian Charter1 and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response: Sphere Association

  • Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards: LEGS Project

  • Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (CPMS): Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action

  • Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery: Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)

  • Minimum Economic Recovery Standards (MERS): Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network

  • Minimum Standard for Market Analysis (MISMA): Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)

  • Humanitarian Inclusion Standards for Older People and People with Disabilities: Age and Disability Consortium


The Camp Management Standards Working Group wishes to thank the more than 850 people from all over the world who contributed to the development of these standards. 
Field consultations were held in Bangladesh, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan and Turkey alongside online video conferencing consultations from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. These were essential in reflecting well the diversity and specificity needed in managing displacement sites.  

The phrase “nothing about us, without us” is one that we hold dear and want to particularly thank displaced persons in South Sudan and Bangladesh (and others who contributed anonymously online) for sharing first hand their expertise of living in a displacement site and ways to make these standards better reflect that reality. 

Our thanks are also made to the following colleagues who, in their roles as members of national Camp Coordination and Camp Management Clusters/sectoral working groups or in other humanitarian sectors, played a central role in consulting on and contributing to the standards.  

ACT Alliance / Christian Aid and DanChurchAid
Don Bosco Catholic Church
ACTEDEl Salvador Civil Protection
ADRAGlobal Communities
Afod Hand in Hand for Syria
Arauca Governorate (Gobernación de Arauca)Health Link South Sudan
Ataa ReliefHold the Child
Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF)Human Relief Foundation
BlumontHumanitarian Standards Partners (HSP)
BRAC IMPACT Initiatives
CAREInter-Sectoral Coordination Group (ISCG) 
Caritas BangladeshInternational Organization for Migration (IOM)
Caritas IraqINTERSOS Humanitarian Aid Organization
Casa del Migrante de SaltilloJoint Crisis Coordination Center (JECC) of the Kurdistan Regional Government
International Committee of the Red CrossMaram Foundation for Relief and Development
International Committee for the Development of Peoples (CISP)Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
Fundación Colombia Nuevos Horizontes Muzun for Humanitarian and Development
COOPI - Cooperazione InternazionaleNational institute of Civil Defense, Peru (INDECI)
Danish Refugee CouncilSave the Children
National Societies of the Red Cross in Latin America Scalabrini Migration Center
NORCAPSite Maintenance and Engineering Project (SMEP), Bangladesh
Northern Frontier Youth League (NoFYL)Somali Young Doctors Association (SOYD)
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) South Sudan Development Agency (SSUDA)
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN (OCHA)Transit centre: Albergue La Sagrada Familia, Mexico
Plan InternationalTransit centre: Albergue de Migrantes Hermanos en el Camino, Mexico
POINT OrganizationTurkish Red Crescent Society
Qatar Red Crescent Society UNICEF (Wash, Child Protection)
Red ClamorUN Department of Peace Operations
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, (RRRC) BangladeshUN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
RIADISViolet Organization
RNVDOWomen Pioneers for Peace and Life (HINNA)
Saed Charity AssociationWorld Food Programme
Samaritan's PurseYouth Activity Organization (YAO)  
Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC)


Funding was provided by the IOM, the Danish Refugee Council and UNHCR. 

Pilot versions of these standards were used in Somalia and Syria and served as the foundation for capacity building for local NGOs in Indonesia.

Thanks also to IOM and DRC for contributing Jennifer Cline Kvernmo and Tom Stork to coordinate and manage the working group, consultations and drafting process. 

The CCCM Strategic Advisory Group, Sara Ribeiro Ferro, Erica Karapandi, and David Preux contributed to earlier drafts and made extensive comments, while Kit Dyer, Humanitarian Standards Partners and Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP) helped reach the final one. Graphic design was undertaken by Livia Mikuelec of The Human Atelier. 

Finally, we think of the men, women and children who are displaced and living in temporary sites today. Refugees, migrants and asylum seekers may we hold up your dignity so you soon reach home. You inspire us in our humanitarian work.