Natural disasters and armed conflicts leave millions of people in need of aid every year. To meet this challenge, humanitarian agencies must be committed more than ever to respect the rights and meet the needs of disaster-affected people. In an international initiative aimed at improving the effectiveness and accountability of disaster response, "The Sphere Handbook" sets out what people affected by disasters have a right to expect from humanitarian agencies. The cornerstone of this book is the Humanitarian Charter, which is based on the principles and provisions of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, and on the principles of the Red Cross and NGO Code of Conduct. It describes the core principles that govern humanitarian action and asserts the right of populations to protection and assistance. The Charter is followed by minimum standards in five core sectors - water supply and sanitation, nutrition, food aid, shelter and site planning and health services.