The humanitarian principle of impartiality – providing assistance on the basis of need alone – requires that humanitarian actors must respond in a way that considers the needs of all people affected by a crisis as they determine priorities. Yet, we know that the humanitarian system still does not systematically include older people and people with disabilities.
Sphere welcomes the development of these tested standards to guide the humanitarian community. We supported the important piloting of this work as a vital contribution to Sphere’s core beliefs: that all people affected by crisis have a right to life with dignity, and that all possible steps must be taken to alleviate suffering in these crises. Without an understanding of the needs and priorities of all – and especially those often less visible in a crisis – humanitarians cannot claim to be supporting dignity and rights on an impartial basis.
On the international stage, commitments have been made towards achieving the inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian action. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) calls for “all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conﬂict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.” The World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 led to the Charters on Inclusion and the Agenda for Humanity, which recognised that a more systematic approach is needed to ensure we leave no one behind in humanitarian action.
These standards provide practitioners and organisations with clear actions that can be taken to protect, support and engage older people and people with disabilities and help us all realise these commitments. They provide guidance to identify and overcome barriers to participation and access in diverse contexts, and at all stages of the humanitarian programme cycle.
These standards represent an important and welcome step towards promoting and improving actions to address the needs of all, with principled impartiality. I hope that you will join us in sharing them broadly, advocating and training for their application, and bringing them wholly into humanitarian practice.
The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities were developed by the Age and Disability Capacity Programme (ADCAP), an initiative of the Age and Disability Consortium. The members of the consortium are CBM, DisasterReady.org, Handicap International, HelpAge International, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Oxford Brookes University and RedR UK.
ADCAP partnered with Kenya Red Cross Society, CBM and Christian Aid in Kenya; Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief and HelpAge International in Pakistan; and Islamic Relief Worldwide and Christian Aid in the UK.
The drafting of the revised version was managed by Giulia David (CBM) and Kate Aykroyd (Handicap International), with support from Philip Hand and Irene van Horssen (HelpAge International), Ricardo Pla Cordero (Handicap International), Valérie Scherrer and Kirsty Smith (CBM).
We would like to thank everyone who reviewed drafts and provided valuable input. This includes:
Members of the Age and Disability Consortium involved in the development of the pilot version and in its revision: Irene van Horssen, Diana Hiscock, Philip Hand, Ivan Kent and Marcus Skinner (HelpAge International); Kate Aykroyd and Ricardo Pla Cordero (Handicap International); Giulia David, Kirsty Smith, Valérie Scherrer, Laura Gore, Tushar Wali and Christian Modino Hok (CBM); Tina Tinde, Kaisa Laitila and Siobhán Foran (IFRC); Kate Denman and Isabelle Robinson (RedR UK); Supriya Akerkar (Oxford Brookes University).
Members of the Review Group, who guided the whole revision process, helped to prioritise changes to the pilot version and inputted in the revised version: Aninia Nadig (Sphere); Emma Pearce (Women’s Refugee Commission); Gergey Pasztor (International Rescue Committee); Georgia Dominik, Jose Viera and Emmanuel Jacq (International Disability Alliance); Kelly Fitzgerald (NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva); Emily Beridico (COSE – Coalition of Services of the Elderly); Kirstin Lange (UNHCR); Maria Kett (Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre, UCL).
Key sector experts who provided technical input into chapters of the revised version: Pauline Thivillier (Handicap International), Angela Rouse (CDAC Network), Mark Gorman (HelpAge International) and Silvia Perel-Levin (Chair, Geneva NGO Committee on Ageing): Key inclusion standards; Emma Pearce (WRC), Boram Lee (WRC), Alice Hawkes (IRC), Gergey Pasztor (IRC): Protection; Mark Buttle (UNICEF) and Magda Rossmann (HelpAge International): WASH; Talal Waheed (HelpAge International), Isabelle Pelly (CaLP): Food security and livelihoods; Mina Mojtahedi (IFRC) and Juma Khudonazarov (HelpAge International): Nutrition; Corinne Treherne (IFRC) and Erika Trabucco (Handicap International): Shelter, settlements and household items; Eric Weerts (Handicap International), Alessandra Aresu (Handicap International), Davide Olchini (Handicap International) and Juma Khudonazarov (HelpAge International): Health; Sian Tesni (CBM) and Julia McGeown (Handicap International): Education.
We acknowledge the contribution of inclusion advisers supported by ADCAP, who used the pilot version of the standards, provided valuable feedback and shared good practices and case studies, many of which are included in this edition: Claire Grant, Sharon Jelagat Kibor, Ayisha Mohamed (Christian Aid); Sherin Alsheikh Ahmed and Farooq Masih (Islamic Relief); Anwar Sadat (HelpAge International); Michael Mwendwa (CBM); Lillian Matemu (Kenya Red Cross Society) and Shafqat Ullah (Concern Worldwide).
We also acknowledge the contribution of over 300 people representing organisations of people with disabilities, older people’s associations and humanitarian organisations, from all over the world. Their feedback on the pilot version was a key contribution to this edition. We thank them for their involvement and for their ongoing dedication to the inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian action.
Globally, around 15 per cent of the population are living with some kind of disability.1 An estimated 13 per cent of people worldwide are over the age of 60.2 More than 46 per cent of those who are over the age of 60 have a disability.3
Humanitarian principles require that humanitarian assistance and protection are provided on the basis of need, without discrimination. No one should be excluded from humanitarian action, either deliberately or inadvertently. Yet there is still limited capacity among humanitarian actors to fulfil this commitment. Discrimination based on disability, age and gender often combines with other forms of discrimination to deny older people and people with disabilities their right to assistance and participation in humanitarian action.
Purpose of the standards
The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities are designed to help address the gap in understanding the needs, capacities and rights of older people and people with disabilities, and promote their inclusion in humanitarian action.
They are designed both to strengthen the accountability of humanitarian actors to older people and people with disabilities, and to support the participation of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian action. The standards can be used as guidance for programming, and as a resource for training and advocacy, particularly for inﬂuencing organisational policies and practice to be more inclusive.
The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities consist of nine Key inclusion standards, derived from the Nine Commitments of the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS), and seven sets of sector-specific inclusion standards: protection; water, sanitation and hygiene; food security and livelihoods; nutrition; shelter, settlement and household items; health; and education.
Each chapter presents a set of standards with key actions to meet the standard, guidance notes to support the delivery of the actions, tools and resources, and case studies illustrating how older people and people with disabilities have been included in humanitarian responses. Case studies in some instances use text from external sources, or use terminology preferred by the organisation providing the information.
The sector inclusion standards are structured around three key areas of inclusion:
data and information management
participation of older people and people with disabilities, and strengthening of their capacities.
The sector-specific inclusion standards are intended to be used in conjunction with the Key inclusion standards.
For the purpose of these standards, ‘inclusion’ is considered in the context of older people and people with disabilities, although it is recognised that there are other at-risk groups who face barriers to access and participation and encounter discrimination on the grounds of status, including age, gender, race, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, religion, health status, political or other opinion, national or social origin.
Underlying principles and frameworks
The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities complement a number of standards and frameworks in international humanitarian law, human rights law and conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They are underpinned by these basic principles:
Humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence
Respect for the inherent dignity of older people and people with disabilities
Active and effective participation and equality of opportunities
Respect for diversity, and acceptance of older people and people with disabilities
Equality between people of different genders and age groups.
The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities complement Protection Mainstreaming, defined by the Global Protection Cluster as the process of incorporating protection principles and promoting meaningful access, safety and dignity in humanitarian aid.
The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities are designed to be used in conjunction with the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, the Core Humanitarian Standard for Quality and Accountability (CHS), and other Sphere companion standards. The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities promote a twin-track approach to including older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian action. This involves providing specific interventions targeted at older people and people with disabilities, to support their empowerment, and also integrating age- and disability-sensitive measures into policies and programmes at all stages.
How the standards were developed
The Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities were developed by the Age and Disability Consortium, a group of seven agencies working to promote age and disability inclusive humanitarian assistance. They were developed as part of the Age and Disability Capacity Programme (ADCAP).
A pilot version was published in 2015 as the Minimum Standards for Age and Disability Inclusion in Humanitarian Action. The pilot drew on an extensive review of existing guidance and standards.
A review of the pilot version was undertaken in 2017. Consultations, surveys and interviews with over 300 technical experts, humanitarian practitioners, and organisations of people with disabilities and older people’s associations, from 139 organisations in 26 countries provided feedback and recommendations for this revised edition.
These standards remain a live document. They are intended to be revised periodically, based on further feedback and recommendations. They have been designed as an initial step to support humanitarian organisations to achieve inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in their responses. Over time, indicators will be developed based on input and experience of humanitarian organisations implementing these standards.