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Key Guidelines

See which basic guidelines and standards CBPS is based on or related to and get quick access to these.

The CBPS approach is based on and related to several international humanitarian guidelines and standards. All these have in common that they were developed in a concern for international standards, quality and accountability in humanitarian and development action. For CBPS, these standards and guidelines have for instance informed the CBPS Core Principles.

Further, they have been impacting various aspects of CBPS such as CBPS PMER tools and CBPS related implementations.  They also contribute to international communication, cooperation and collaboration by establishing clear basics. 

The standards and guidelines which have a particular role when working with a CBPS approach are: 

  •  IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings
  • Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability
  • The Sphere Handbook – Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response
  • HAP Standard in Accountability and Quality Management

More general standards and guidelines exist of course which can be related to CBPS as well, but these can be seen as the most basic ones. There are also many more specific guidelines for certain cross-cutting areas which can be related to CBPS. You can read more on such guidelines under Thematic Main Areas.

Key Gudielines

IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings

IASC who provides the guidelines was established by the United Nations Generally Assembly for the purpose of supporting coordination, policy development and decision making for humanitarian agencies. The creation of the guidelines is based on the psychological and social impact armed conflicts and natural disasters cause to the affected population which, apart from having a short-term impact, might lead to disruption of peace, human rights and development in the long-term. Therefore, the mental health and psychosocial well-being of survivors must be both protected and improved. The guidelines aim at increasing the effectiveness and timeliness of MHPSS focusing on practical actions and by enabling humanitarian actors and communities to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral actions. Considering that the guidelines are multi-sectoral, humanitarian actors need to be selective in use of parts of the guidelines depending on their capacity and local needs.

The IASC MHPSS Guidelines adhere to a set of core principles which are Human Rights and Equity, Participation, Do No Harm, Building on Available Resources and Capacities, Integrated Support Systems and Multi-Layered Supports. These are crucial throughout all interventions and the Community-Based Psychosocial Support approach is based on the same core principles.

Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability

The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) sets out Nine Commitments that organisations and individuals involved in humanitarian response can use to improve the quality and effectiveness of the assistance they provide. It also facilitates greater accountability to communities and people affected by crisis, i.e. knowing what humanitarian organisations have committed to will enable them to hold those organisations to account. The CHS places communities and people affected by crisis at the centre of humanitarian action. The CHS is the result of a global consultation process. It draws together key elements of existing humanitarian standards and commitments. Act Church of Sweden also adheres to the CHS and the Nine Commitments can be linked to the CBPS core principles (based on and alike to the IASC MHPSS core principles).

More languages can be found here.

CHS Guidance Notes and Indicators

The CHS Guidance Notes and Indicators supplement the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS). Aimed at all humanitarian actors and organisations involved in planning, managing or implementing a humanitarian response, this document provides clarification on the Key Actions and Organisational Responsibilities laid out in the CHS and examines some of the practical challenges that may arise when applying the Standard.

It explains why each of the Nine Commitments of the CHS is important and provides indicators and guiding questions to promote measurement of progress towards meeting the standard and drive continuous learning and improvement.

Investing in CHS and CBPS are complementary strategies aimed at raising the quality of programming and increase the effectiveness of your organisation in the long run. As many key elements of the standards raise similar issues, it is worthwhile integrating both for a more principled approach to humanitarian action.

You can find the CHS Guidance Notes and Indicators here.

More languages can be found here.

The CHS are also integrated in the SPHERE Standards where it is part as one of the standard's foundational chapters. So by working with a CBPS approach, adherence to the CHS, and thereby to the SPHERE Standards is strengthened. Read more about the SPHERE Standard by browsing to the next page below. 

The Sphere Handbook – Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

The Sphere Handbook is the oldest initiative in the field of humanitarian standards. It has been field-tested over twenty years and regularly updated. The Sphere Handbook 2018 is the latest version. It is based on a rights-based approach, meaning people have the right to assistance, the right to life with dignity, the right to protection and security, and the right to fully participate in decisions related to their own recovery. MHPSS was integrated throughout the sectors. This means that by following SPHERE many aspects of CBPS are already integrated into programming with regard to protect people from harm. 

The handbook consists of both foundation chapters and technical chapters, with the former outlining the ethical, legal and practical basis for humanitarian response. They underpin all technical sectors and programmes. They describe commitments and processes to ensure a good quality humanitarian response, and encourage responders to be accountable to those affected by their actions. These chapters help the user apply the Minimum Standards more effectively in any context. Reading a technical chapter without also reading the foundation chapters risks missing essential elements of the standards. The foundations for instance include the Core Humanitarian Standards.

The technical chapters include minimum standards in key response sectors of WASH, food security and nutrition, shelter and settlement, and health. It should be considered, that in practice, humanitarian needs do not fall neatly into specific sectors.

Effective humanitarian response must address people’s needs holistically, and sectors should coordinate and collaborate with each other to do so. In the context of a protracted crisis, this may also expand beyond the humanitarian response with a need to work closely with development actors.

The Handbook contains cross-references to help make these links. Readers should familiarise themselves with all chapters to support a holistic response.


The SPHERE Standards, the Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS) and the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) were all developed as a response to the common concern for international standards, quality and accountability. Read more about CHS and HAP on the pages below. 

The 2010 HAP Standard in Accountability and Quality Management

The Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) International was established in 2003 to promote accountability to people affected by humanitarian crises and to acknowledge those organisations that meet the HAP Principles of Accountability, which the founding members developed as a condition of HAP membership. By applying these Principles, an organisation becomes accountable for the quality of its work to people it aims to assist and on whose behalf it is acting. In order to provide an objective, consistent and logical approach to verifying that HAP members apply and meet the Principles of Accountability, HAP developed the 2007 Standard in Humanitarian Accountability and Quality Management. This was the first international standard designed to assess, improve and recognise the accountability and quality of humanitarian programmes. The 2010 edition replaces the 2007 edition following a transition period.

The HAP Standard helps organisations that assist or act on behalf of people affected by or prone to disasters, conflict, poverty or other crises to design, implement, assess, improve and recognise accountable programmes. It describes how to establish a commitment to accountability and the processes that will deliver quality programmes for the people who experience them first hand. The HAP Standard is intended to be used either on its own or with other tools, frameworks and standards. 

The HAP Standard was originally developed for application in humanitarian relief programmes. Based on experience and on the review consultations, the scope of the 2010 edition has been expanded and the HAP Standard can also be applied to other aspects of an organisation’s work, including development and advocacy. This expansion in scope does not necessarily change the nature of HAP’s primary area of work.

It is important to note that HAP International does not longer exist, but the HAP Standard is still a good document. For more recent guidelines, read more about SPHERE and CHS below.  

SPHERE Handbook 2018 for download

Find information and material on more specific areas

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Thematic Main Areas

Read more about the relation and integration of CBPS and specific thematic areas.