A list of abbreviations can be found below the glossary.

Affected areas: Geographical areas affected by the hazard. Not all people in those areas will necessarily require humanitarian response.?

Affected population: People who are adversely affected by a crisis or disaster and may require assistance, if they are unable to cope with the effects of the situation on their own.?

Anticipatory (or forward-looking) analysis: It is the process of studying past and present circumstances, relationships, and trends in order to develop one or more set of narratives that help identify the possible evolution of a situation or events, as well as the consequences or effects of the change(s).

Anticipatory (or early) action: It is an activity taking place between an early warning trigger (an event or element that signals an increased or decreased probability of a hazard occurring) or a high-probability forecast, and the actual occurrence of the corresponding disaster. An early action is the action or measure taken to mitigate or prevent the humanitarian impact of the anticipated disaster, based on the identified triggers or forecast.

Assessment: Those activities necessary to understand a given situation including the collection, updating and analysis of data pertaining to the affected population (needs, capacities, resources), as well as the state of infrastructure and general socio-economic conditions in a given location.? Coordinated assessments are planned and carried out in partnership with other humanitarian actors, and include single-agency assessments that are harmonised and inter- and intra-cluster/sector joint assessments.?

Asylum-seeker: An individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualised procedures, an asylum-seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she has submitted it.?

Baseline (data): An interpretive tool comprised of statistics against which you can compare indicators from your selected population that are from a different period of time, a different place or a different population.?

Besieged area: An area surrounded by armed actors with the sustained effect that humanitarian assistance cannot regularly enter, and civilians cannot regularly exit the area.?

Case fatality rate: The proportion of persons with a disease that dies from the disease within a specified period. It is reported as a percentage such as ‘the case-fatality rate of persons with cholera in the last week was 35%’.?

Casualties: The sum of the dead, missing and injured.?

  • Dead: Persons confirmed as dead and persons missing and presumed dead.
  • Missing: Persons whose status during or after an emergency is not known.
  • Injured: Persons suffering from physical injuries, trauma or an illness requiring medical treatment.?

Child protection: The act of preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children – including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage.?

Cluster: Group of humanitarian organisations (UN and non-UN) working in the main sectors of humanitarian action, e.g. shelter and health. Clusters are created when clear humanitarian needs exist within a sector, when there are numerous actors within sectors and when national authorities need coordination support.?

Community: A group of people that recognises itself or is recognised by outsiders as sharing common cultural, religious or other social features, backgrounds and interests, and that forms a collective identity with shared goals.?

Complex emergency:  All crises characterized by extreme vulnerability that display a combination of the following features:

  1. The government is unwilling or incapable to effectively respond, resulting in a need for external assistance;
  2. political oppression or armed conflict;
  3. displacement;
  4. increased mortality.?

Coping capacity: The ability of people, organisations and systems to face and manage adverse conditions, emergencies or disasters, using available skills and resources.?

Data: Data can be both facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis. Thus, data can be both qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data is, for example, findings from Focus Group Discussions, records, and answers from Key Informant Interviews. Quantitative data can be, among others, percentages of questionnaires’ responses, malnutrition rates, IPC figures, population figures, etc. Raw data is any data that has not been processed, either manually or using an automated software. Initial processing of raw data normally involves structuring, sorting and cleaning it (to detect and correct or remove corrupt or inaccurate records).

Database: A database is an organised collection of structured quantitative or qualitative data, or information, stored so that it can be easily accessed, managed, filtered, manipulated, and/or updated (usually electronically).

Dataset: A dataset is a group of separate elements (data) that have been combined or organised into one set. Any named group of records is called a data set. Data sets can hold information such as demographic, personal, health, housing records, etc.  

Disaggregated:  Disaggregated means separation. For population data, this means data at the individual level, so that you can see each person’s information, or to data that is divided into different demographic groups.?

Disaster:A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.? Natural disasters are events brought about by natural hazards that seriously affect the society, economy and/or infrastructure of a region. It is important to understand that the magnitude of the consequences of sudden natural hazards is a direct result of the way individuals and societies relate to threats originating from natural hazards.? A natural hazard is a natural process or phenomenon that may cause loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation. Comment: Natural hazards are a sub-set of all hazards – see definition of hazard.?

Disaster risk reduction (DRR): The concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters, through reduced exposure to hazards, decreased vulnerability of people and property, appropriate management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.?

Displaced persons: Persons who, for different reasons or circumstances, have been compelled to leave their homes. They may or may not reside in their country of origin.?

Drought: Where precipitation has been significantly below normal recorded levels, causing serious hydrological imbalances that have a major impact on land resource production systems, as opposed to dry spells, which have minor impact.?

Dry spell: Short period of water stress during critical crop growth stages, which can occur with high frequency but minor impact compared with drought.?

Early recovery: Crisis response guided by principles of sustainability and local ownership to the delivery of humanitarian assistance as early as possible.?

El Niño Southern Oscillation phenomenon: A complex interaction of the tropical Pacific Ocean and the global atmosphere that results in irregular episodes of changed ocean and weather patterns in many parts of the world, often with significant impacts over many months, such as altered marine habitats, flooding, and drought.?

Epidemic: Occurrence of cases of a disease that is usually absent from the community; alternatively, a situation in which the disease is usually present, but suddenly reaches incidence levels in excess of the expected range.?

Evacuation: Security measure to clear a region of its inhabitants generally under threat, which involves the collaboration of civil society at an individual or group level.?

Evaluation: A systematic and objective analysis and assessment of the organization’s policies, programmes, practices, partnerships and procedures, focused on planning, design, implementation and impact.?

Food security: A situation in which all people at all times have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.? Food security is based on three pillars:

  • Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis. It is determined by the level of food production, stock levels, and net trade.
  • Food access: having sufficient resources (not purely economic) to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Food can be accessed through trade, barter, collection of wild foods, and community support networks, or received as a gift, theft, or as assistance.
  • Food utilisation: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation. It is primarily determined by people’s health status.?

See also IPC

Gender: The socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.?

Hard-to-reach area: An area that is not regularly accessible to humanitarian actors for the purpose of sustained humanitarian programming.?

Host community: Communities that host large populations of refugees or internally displaced persons, typically in camps or integrated into households directly.?

Household: All the persons, kin and non-kin, who live in the same dwelling and share income, expenses and daily subsistence tasks.?

Humanitarian access: The notion of ‘humanitarian access’ is not defined in international law, but can be understood as a precondition for effective humanitarian assistance, which requires the consent of the state or the entity controlling a territory (a non-state armed group). Where the need for such assistance is sustained over a period of time, the term should encompass not only access for goods and services to reach the beneficiaries rapidly but also the maintenance of such access as long as necessary.? Access constraints include impediments to entry, restrictions of movement, interference with relief activities, violence against humanitarian personnel, denial of the affected population’s needs, restriction of the population’s access to aid, active hostilities, the presence of unexploded ordnances and mines, and constraints presented by the physical environment and infrastructure.

Improved sanitation facilities: An improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. Examples are:

  • Flush or pour/flush toilets to a piped sewer system, a septic tank, or a pit latrine;
  • Ventilated improved pit latrines;
  • Pit latrines with slab;
  • Composting toilet

Only facilities that are not public and not shared between two or more households are considered improved.? Unimproved sanitation facilities do not ensure hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact, or are shared between two or more households.?

Improved water source: An improved water source is protected from contamination. Improved water sources include piped household water connections, public standpipes, boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater collection.? Unimproved drinking water sources include surface water sources, unprotected wells an springs, vendor-provided water, tanker truck-provided water, and bottled water (unless bottled water is only used for drinking and water for other uses is available from an improved source).?

Incidence: The number of new cases diagnosed or reported with a certain disease during a defined time period (usually one year) divided by the total population in which the cases occurred.?

Indicator: A measure that reflects or indicates the state of a defined population, e.g. infant mortality rate. Indicators can be quantitative or qualitative.?

Integrated food security phase classification (IPC): A set of standardised tools that aims at providing a “common currency” for classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity (IPC). IPC uses the following phases for classification:

  • Phase 1 Minimal: More than four in five households are able to meet essential food and non-food needs without engaging in atypical, unsustainable strategies to access food and income, including any reliance on humanitarian assistance.
  • Phase 2 Stressed: Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five households have minimally adequate food consumption but are unable to afford some essential non-food expenditures without engaging in irreversible coping strategies.
  • Phase 3 Crisis: Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five households in the area have food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition, or are marginally able to meet minimum food needs only with accelerated depletion of livelihood assets that will lead to food consumption gaps.
  • Phase 4 Emergency: Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five households in the area have large food consumption gaps resulting in very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality, or extreme loss of livelihood assets that will lead to food consumption gaps in the short term.
  • Phase 5 Famine: Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five households in the area have an extreme lack of food and other basic needs where starvation, death, and destitution are evident.?

Information: Information is data that has been processed in such a way as to be meaningful to the person who receives it. When data (quantitative or qualitative) has been processed, organised, structured or presented in a given context so as to make it useful, it becomes information. Overall, information is any processed, organised, and at times analysed, data that is communicated verbally or in written form.

Integrated analysis: There is no agreed upon definition of what integrated humanitarian analysis is. ACAPS refers to integrated analysis as any multi-dimension analysis. Integrated analysis goes beyond multi or cross sectoral analysis (needs analysis on multiple sectors or needs analysis that explores links across sectors). With integrated analysis we mean the process and output that helps build linkages between the humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding elements of a crisis. It is exploring drivers of the crisis and humanitarian needs, explaining pre-crisis vulnerabilities, explaining patterns and trends, including local knowledge and expertise into the analysis, exploring vulnerabilities.

Internal displacement: Involuntary movement of people inside their own country.?

Joint analysis: Joint analysis is the collaborative process of transforming data into actionable insights for decision making (JIAF Draft Guidance 2019). It is analysis undertaken by different stakeholders together. Typically, in the humanitarian sector we consider two main types of joint analysis: the common analysis of a situation by experts from different sectors (Food, Health, WASH etc.) and the common analysis of a situation by experts representing different stakeholders (national authorities, international humanitarian agencies, donors etc.). Joint analysis is conducted to reduce the impact of ‘group’ or ‘stakeholders’ biases. Such processes build on structured analytical techniques and specific lines of inquiries to foster critical thinking and alternative explanations, argued on the basis of the strength of evidence, the assumptions made and the degree of consensus among experts.

Livelihoods: A combination of the resources used and the activities undertaken in order to live. Resources include individual skills, land, savings, equipment, as well as formal support groups and informal networks.?

Local capacity: The combination of all strengths, attributes, and resources available within a community, society, or organisation that can be used to achieve agreed goals. Capacity may include infrastructure and physical means, institutions, societal coping abilities, as well as human knowledge, skills, and collective attributes such as social relationships, leadership, and management.?

Malnutrition: An abnormal physiological condition caused by inadequate, unbalanced, or excessive consumption of macronutrients and/or micronutrients, or by poor absorption of food consumed. Malnutrition refers to both undernutrition (food deprivation) and overnutrition (excessive food intake in relation to energy requirements).??

  • Chronic malnutrition (stunting): A failure to grow in stature, which occurs as a result of inadequate nutrition over a longer time period. The effects are not usually apparent until the age of two years. However, to prevent chronic malnutrition action is needed before a child reaches the age of two. The effects are not completely reversible.?
  • Acute malnutrition (wasting) is the result of recent rapid weight loss, or a failure to gain weight within a relatively short period of time. Wasting occurs as a result of deficiencies in both macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) and some micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Wasting often occurs during the stage when food other than breastmilk is being introduced and children are more susceptible to infectious diseases. Recovery is relatively quick once optimal feeding, health, and care are restored.?
  • Global acute malnutrition: A statistical tool to measure the nutritional status of a population, it masures the weight-to-height index of children aged between 6 and 59 months in the target population and compares this with a reference population, which does not suffer from a food deficit.? GAM can be broken down into moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM). SAM can present clinically as severe wasting (marasmus) or as bilateral pitting oedema (kwashiorkor).?

Maternal mortality: The death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy (by birth, abortion or miscarriage) due to complications from the pregnancy, delivery, or management of either, or due to existing medical conditions that were aggravated by the pregnancy or delivery.?

Maternal mortality ratio: The number of women dying due to pregnancy-related causes while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy termination, out of 100,000 live births per year.?

Morbidity: Any departure from the state of physiological or psychological wellbeing; synonymous with sickness or illness. Measured in terms of all persons within a given population who become ill during a specific time period, by types of illness.?

Mortality rate (death rate): The number of deaths occurring in a given population at risk per unit time, over a given time period, usually a year (e.g. deaths per 10,000 people per day).

  • Crude mortality rate: Mortality among all age groups and due to all causes, measured as the number of deaths occurring in a given population during a specified time period. In emergencies often expressed as the number of deaths / 10,000 persons / day.
  • Under-five mortality rate (U5MR): Number of deaths occurring in a given population of children under five years of age during a specified time period. In emergencies it is usually calculated per 10,000 children under five per day. In demography and more long-term development settings, it generally refers to the number of children under five dying out of 1,000 live births in a given year (also known as child mortality rate).
  • Infant mortality rate: Number of infants below one year old dying out of 1,000 live births in a given year.?

Nutritional oedema: Result of the excessive accumulation of extracellular fluid as a result of severe nutritional deficiencies.?

People in need (PIN): People requiring immediate assistance during an emergency, including basic survival needs such as food, water, shelter, sanitation, and immediate medical assistance (adapted from GPCWG 2011).

Population at risk: A well-defined population whose lives, property, and livelihoods are threatened by given hazards.?

Prevalence: Number of cases of infection or disease present in the population (or a specific subgroup) at a specific point in time or time period. This includes new as well as existing cases.?

Primary healthcare: The first level of contact of individuals, the family, and community with the national health system. Outpatient treatment of a few high-burden diseases at basic health posts or centres, usually diagnosed without laboratory work and based on simple case definitions. Preventive interventions such as health education, routine vaccination, and antenatal care also take place.??  

Protection: A concept that encompasses all activities aimed at obtaining full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and spirit of human rights, refugee and international humanitarian law.?

Refugee: Any person who, owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of their former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.?

Resilience: The ability of a system, community, or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate to, and recover from the effects of a hazards in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions.?

Response: The aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of human-made and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations.?

Risk: A risk is the probability of a hazard (or multiple hazards) occurring, combined with the estimated severity of the hazard(s).  In other words: Risk = Severity x Probability [the possibility of loss or injury]. Risk analysis is the process of identifying and unpacking potential future events that may negatively impact individuals, assets, and or the environment.

Sampling: Selection of clusters, households, or individuals from a population of study.

  • Sampling methods: The sample can be selected through a variety of methods, which can be classified as probability or non-probability sampling. In probability samples, each member of the population has a known non-zero probability of being selected. These include methods such as random sampling, stratified sampling, and systematic sampling, and they have the advantage that a sampling error can be calculated. This is the degree to which a sample might be different from the studied population. In non-probability sampling, the selection is done in some non-random manner. These methods include convenience sampling, purposive sampling, and snowball sampling.??
  • Sample size: The size of a sample is a determining factor for how representative a sample is. Larger sample sizes are more likely to be representative, and therefore more likely to accurately and precisely reflect a picture of the entire population.?

Scenarios: A scenario is a description or picture of a situation at some point in the future based on a set of informed assumptions about how the current situation might develop over time. It is usual practice to develop two or more scenarios to reflect a range of significantly different futures. Scenario building is the process of determining descriptions of possible future conditions or events and their expected consequences or effects, which may be positive, negative or neutral. Scenario building activities are done to inform planning.

School enrolment:  Percentage of the official school-age population enrolled in a specific level of education in a given school year.?

Seasonality: seasonal pattern occurs when a time series is affected by seasonal factors such as the time of the year or the day of the week. Seasonality is always of a fixed and known frequency.

Secondary healthcare: The second tier of the health system, which provides routine specialist care and inpatient care. Patients are generally referred by a primary healthcare provider.

Separated children: Children who have been separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary caregiver, but not necessarily from other relatives.?

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV): Acts that inflict physical, mental, or sexual harm or suffering, threat of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty, that target individuals or groups of individuals on the basis of their gender.?

Shelter: ?Physical protection requirements of disaster victims who no longer have access to normal habitation facilities.? Displaced populations are often categorised by mode of shelter:

  • Camp or camp-like settlements: these include planned camp or settlement, self-settled camp or informal settlement, collective centre (pre-existing public buildings and community facilities), and reception or transit site:
  • Private or individual accommodation: these include hosted (living with someone else in their home, sharing resources and a hearth) and non-hosted (living alone as a household)

Smuggling in persons: The voluntary, illegal transnational transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of migrants, often in dangerous or degrading conditions.?? See also Trafficking in persons

Survey: A detailed study of a geographical area to gather data on a certain situation, including attitudes, impressions, and opinions, by asking a series of questions to a part of the population.?

Survey of Surveys: A country-specific repository of information on assessments which provides a comprehensive picture of completed, ongoing, and planned assessments, mapped by geographical area.?

Tertiary healthcare: Specialised consultative care, usually on referral from primary or secondary healthcare providers, in a centre that has personnel and facilities for special investigation and treatment.?

Trafficking in persons: The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Victims of trafficking have either never consented or their initial consent has been rendered meaningless by the coercive, deceptive or abusive actions of the traffickers.? See also Smuggling in persons

Trends: A trend is general direction in which something is developing or changing. It does not have to be linear. Trend analysis is a process that helps to determine future movements of a variable on the basis of its historical trends. It consists in quantifying and explaining trends and patterns in "noisy" data.

Triangulation: A process of comparing and consolidating data from several different sources to obtain a more precise result. It is also referred to as cross-checking/ cross-referencing.?

Unaccompanied minors: Persons below the age of majority who are not in the company of an adult who, by law or custom, has responsibility to care for the child, such as parents, guardians or primary care-givers.?

Voluntary repatriation: A refugee returns to their country of origin based on their free and informed decision. Voluntary repatriation may be organised (i.e. it takes place under the auspices of the concerned governments and UNHCR), or spontaneous (i.e. refugees return by their own means).?

Vulnerability: The characteristics and circumstances of a community, system, or asset that make it susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard.?


List of abbreviations

ACF                Action Contre la Faim (Action against hunger)

AFP                Agence France-Presse

AI                    Amnesty International

AIDS              Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

ALJ                Al Jazeera

ARI                 Acute respiratory infection

AU                  African Union

AWD              Acute watery diarrhoea

CAP                Consolidated Appeals Process

CFR                Case fatality rate

CFSAM          Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission

CIA                 Central Intelligence Agency

CMR              Crude mortality rate

DFID              Department for International Development (UK)

DHS                Demographic and Health Survey

DRR               Disaster risk reduction

DTP                Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis

ECB                Emergency Capacity Building Project

ECHO            European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department

EM-DAT        Emergency database

ERC               Emergency Relief Coordinator

ERW              Explosive remnants of war

EWS               Early warning system

FAO                Food and Agriculture Organization

FEWSNET    Famine Early Warning System Network

FGM               Female genital mutilation

GAM              Global acute malnutrition

GBV               Gender-based violence

GHA               Global Humanitarian Assistance

GHI                Global Hunger Index

GIS                 Geographic information system

GPCWG        Global Protection Cluster Working Group

HC                  Humanitarian Coordinator

HDI                 Human Development Index

HHs                 Households

HIV                 Human immunodeficiency virus

HPN                Humanitarian Practice Network

HRW              Human Rights Watch

IASC              Inter-Agency Standing Committee

ICG                International Crisis Group

ICRC              International Committee of the Red Cross

IDMC             Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

IDP                 Internally displaced person

IED                 Improvised explosive device

IFPRI             International Food Policy Research Institute

IFRC              International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

IMR                Infant mortality rate

IOM                International Organization for Migration

IPC                 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification

LFS                 Livelihoods and food security

MDG              Millennium Development Goals

MICS              Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys

MMR              Maternal mortality rate

MSF                Médecins Sans Frontières

NDRI              Natural Disaster Risk Index

NFIs                Non-food items

OCHA            Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN)

PRS                Palestinian refugees in Syria

RC                  Resident Coordinator

SAM               Severe acute malnutrition

SCF                Save the Children Fund

SCI                 Save the Children International

SDR                Secondary data review

SGBV             Sexual and gender based violence

Sitrep              Situation report

SoS                  Survey of surveys

STD/I              Sexually transmitted disease/infection

TB                   Tuberculosis

TBN                Treated bed nets

TCN               Third country nationals

UN                  United Nations

UNAIDS        United Nations program on HIV/AIDS

UNCT            United Nations Country Team

UNDAC         United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination

UNDP             United Nations Development Programme

UNFPA          United Nations Population Fund

UNHCR         Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UNICEF        United Nations Children’s Fund

UNISDR        United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

UNRWA        United Nations Relief and Works Agency

UXO               Unexploded ordnance

WASH            Water, sanitation and hygiene

WB                 World Bank

WFP               World Food Programme

WHO              World Health Organization