Minimum Standards for Age and Disability Inclusion in Humanitarian Action

Member Author: 
Hope and Healing International



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 it is widely acknowledged that the humanitarian system still suffers from a blind spot on questions of disability and ageing.

Some 15 per cent of the world’s population is living with some kind of disability today, and more than 1 in 8 people are already over the age of 60, with that number rising. The exclusion of older people and persons with disabilities from humanitarian assistance – or unintentionally hindering their access to such assistance – is much more than a blind spot; in reality it undermines the fundamental principle of impartiality and contributes to discrimination rather than supporting recovery.

To advance humanitarian quality and accountability, non-discrimination and inclusion of all vulnerable groups is essential. The Sphere Project was established with two fundamental beliefs at its core: that all of those affected by crisis have a right to life with dignity and that all possible steps must be taken to alleviate suffering in these crises. With the publication of these Minimum Standards for Age and Disability, practitioners and organizations have even stronger support and clear illustrations of what this means in practice and what actions can be taken.

The specific needs of older men and women, persons with disabilities, and carers are diverse and vary by context. These Minimum Standards for Age and Disability Inclusion in Humanitarian Action represent an important and extremely welcome step towards promoting and improving actions to address the needs of all, at all stages of a response, with principled impartiality.

Christine Knudsen, Director, The Sphere Project