Humanitarian Terms

In addition to the list of humanitarian terms below, ReliefWeb has compiled a glossary of humanitarian terms which provides a focus on common usage and understanding of terms within a humanitarian context, particularly as relating to natural disasters, complex emergencies and disaster risk reduction.

Jump to: Theme | Content Format | OCHA Product | Disaster Type | Vulnerable Groups | Primary Country | Career Category | Training Type | Status | Organization Type

Theme

Agriculture

Agriculture includes fisheries; animal husbandry; and distribution of inputs such as seeds; aid activities helping to improve food security, agricultural and veterinary training.

Climate Change and Environment

Climate Change and Environment includes humanitarian implications of climate change and/or environmental changes, such as increased vulnerability, migration or displacement.

Contributions

Contributions is defined as financial and in-kind humanitarian aid, as announced by the recipient (government, multilateral agencies, and NGOs), by donors (government, multilateral funding institutions, and pooled funds), or in media reporting.

Coordination

Coordination includes intra- and inter-cluster coordination, civil-military coordination, private sector partnership.

Disaster Management

Disaster Management includes policy and operational activities pertaining to the various stages of natural disasters at all levels, including early warning, disaster preparedness, prevention, risk reduction and mitigation.

Education

Education includes establishment of temporary learning spaces, provision of school supplies, and support to teachers and other school personnel, governmental entities. Post-conflict/disaster normalization support, including rehabilitation of schooling infrastructure.

Food and Nutrition

Food and Nutrition includes food security, food aid, school feeding, supplementary feeding, and therapeutic feeding.

Gender

Gender covers victims of emergencies or disasters and beneficiaries of humanitarian action irrespective of sex, focusing on issues affecting the genders differently. Also includes women as peacemakers and agents of change.

Health

Health includes emergency medical services, equipment and supplies; reproductive health; psycho-social support; mobile medical clinics; and disease control and surveillance.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS includes delivery of HIV/AIDS services in emergencies and humanitarian consequences of prolonged high prevalence.

Humanitarian Financing

Humanitarian Financing includes good humanitarian donorship and related policy framework and coordinated funding mechanisms such as pooled funds (Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), Emergency Response Fund (ERF)). Accountability and transparency. Partnership.

Logistics and Telecommunications

Logistics and Telecommunications is defined as operational activities concerned with the supply, handling, storage and transportation of aid material and aid worker, and provision of ICT services and support to aid personnel serving in emergencies.

Mine Action

Mine Actions addresses problems of landmines, unexploded ordinances (UXO) and explosive remnants of war (ERW), including clearance, education, victim assistance and advocacy. (Source: UN Mine Action Gateway)

Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding

Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding pertains to policies, programs, and associated efforts to: resolve conflict; prevent conflict escalation; uphold law and order in a conflict zone; and restore social and political institutions disrupted by the conflict; such as ceasefire/peace negotiation; disarmament/demobilisation/reintegration; multilateral peacekeeping and political missions; and electoral support/observation missions.

Protection and Human Rights

Protection and Human Rights pertains to civilians, IDPs and refugees in the context of human rights violations, gender-based violence, international humanitarian, criminal and human rights law, including humanitarian access.

Recovery and Reconstruction

Recovery and Reconstruction includes replacement/restoration of assets, infrastructure and livelihoods lost, damaged or interrupted in natural disasters or conflict. The theme also covers Early Recovery which encompass specific interventions to help people move from dependence on humanitarian relief towards sustainable development.

Safety and Security

Safety and Security is defined as policies, measures and incidents relating to safety and security of humanitarian aid workers in the field. Safety and security of civilians is covered under “Protection and Human Rights.”

Shelter and Non-Food Items

Shelter and Non-Food Items includes provision of shelter materials and non-food household item packages. The theme also covers Camp Coordination and Camp Management. Long-term/permanent reconstruction/rebuilding of housing is covered under "Recovery and Reconstruction."

Water Sanitation Hygiene

Water Sanitation Hygiene includes emergency provision of safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation services, environmental sanitation and water supply, as well as hygiene promotion campaigns.

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Content format

Analysis

Analysis includes reports that present an in-depth understanding of humanitarian issues and frequently conclude with recommendations for action by the aid community fall into this category, as do country/thematic policy papers, background papers, briefing papers.

Appeal

Appeal includes substantive documents targeting the donor community or private donors, setting out financial requirements to provide humanitarian (or recovery/reconstruction) assistance, including Strategic Response Plans (HAPs), Flash Appeals.

Assessment

Assessment covers studies or missions conducted to measure the extent of humanitarian needs on the ground, such as UN Inter-Agency needs assessment mission reports, UNDAC mission reports and WFP/FAO food security assessments.

Evaluation and Lessons Learned

Evaluation and Lessons Learned includes studies to measure humanitarian activities and their level of efficiency, drawing lessons, making recommendations and/or proposing improvements for future similar action.

Infographic

Infographic is defined as a visual representation of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly using charts, diagrams, tables, and statistics, including maps, where 75-100% of the content consists of graphics.

Interactive

Interactive is defined as web-based visuals with clickable points which allow users to display and/or query data or information layers.

Manual and Guideline

Manual and Guideline includes toolkits, resource guides, FAQs, tools, handbooks, guides, study materials, standards, best practices, how-to guides, glossaries, reference materials, bibliographies, etc.

Map

Map is defined as a visual geographic representation of an area, region or country, where 75-100% of the content consists of maps with limited texts and graphics, which focus on explaining/illustrating geography and location.

News and Press Release

News and Press Release covers secondary information reports, for example articles from news agencies/media, as well as documents from various entities announcing new information on their activities, opinions and decisions.

Other

Other applies to everything that does not fall into any of the other formats, such as agreements and conventions, technical project documents, and documents comprising only tables.

Situation Report

Situation Report is defined as reports containing updated information on emergencies/disasters. A situation report typically covers a specific period of time, is often divided by sectors/clusters or is about one sector/cluster of activity.

UN Document

UN Document is defined as official UN/masthead documents, such as reports of the Secretary-General, the Security Council and General Assembly as well as official/session documents (resolutions, decisions, etc.) of UN agencies.

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OCHA product

  • Flash Update

  • Humanitarian Bulletin (including Bulletin humanitaire [but not RDC Bulletin d'Information Humanitaire], Boletin Humanitario, oPt Humanitarian Monitor Monthly report and Ethiopia Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin)

  • Humanitarian Dashboard (including Tableau de bord humanitaire)

  • Humanitarian Needs Overview (use also for Aperçu des besoins humanitaires, also comes as Mid-Year Review)

  • Humanitarian Snapshot (including Apercu)

  • Infographic (Document contains visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly using charts, diagrams, tables, and statistics, including maps. 75-100% contents are graphic and in two pages or less. Maps contains in the infographic should be less than 75% of infographic. Includes Funding Updates, but NOT dashboards and snapshots since they are tagged separately)

  • Key Messages

  • Other (for everything that doesn't fall in any of the other categories, including REDLAC Weekly Note on Emergencies, Protection of Civilians Weekly Report, Incident Reports, Humanitarians in Action, Bulletin d'Information Humanitaire, Top/Web stories, factsheets, annual reports, Situation humanitaire en RDC : Note d’information à la presse, media advisories, etc.)

  • Press Release

  • Press Review (including Revue de Presse)

  • Reference Map (Map shows location of the geographic areas as in administrative boundaries and populated places, as well as major physical features, such as roads, railroads, coastlines, rivers and lakes. Includes Location Maps)

  • Situation Report (including Rapport de situation and Informe de situación)

  • Statement/Speech from OCHA USG/ASG/Directors.

  • Thematic Map (Map that focuses on a particular theme or special topic with a specific geographic area and they are different from general reference maps. Includes disaster location maps and 3W maps)

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Disaster Type

Cold Wave (GLIDE hazard code: CW)

Cold Wave is defined as a period of abnormally cold weather. Typically a cold wave lasts two or more days and may be aggravated by high winds. The exact temperature criteria for what constitutes a cold wave vary by location. (CRED EM-DAT)

Drought (GLIDE hazard code: DR)

Drought is defined as an extended period of unusually low precipitation that produces a shortage of water for people, animals and plants. Drought is different from most other hazards in that it develops slowly, sometimes even over years, and its onset is generally difficult to detect. Drought is not solely a physical phenomenon because its impacts can be exacerbated by human activities and water supply demands. Drought is therefore often defined both conceptually and operationally. Operational definitions of drought, meaning the degree of precipitation reduction that constitutes a drought, vary by locality, climate and environmental sector. (CRED EM-DAT)

Earthquake (GLIDE hazard code: EQ)

Earthquake is defined as sudden movement of a block of the Earth’s crust along a geological fault and associated ground shaking. (CRED EM-DAT)

Epidemic (GLIDE hazard code: EP)

Epidemic is defined as either an unusual increase in the number of cases of an infectious disease, which already exists in the region or population concerned; or the appearance of an infection previously absent from a region. (CRED EM-DAT)

Extratropical Cyclone (GLIDE hazard code: ET)

Extratropical Cyclone is defined as a type of low-pressure cyclonic system in the middle and high latitudes (also called mid-latitude cyclone) that primarily gets its energy from the horizontal temperature contrasts (fronts) in the atmosphere. When associated with cold fronts, extratropical cyclones may be particularly damaging (e.g. European winter/windstorm, Nor’easter). (CRED EM-DAT)

Fire (GLIDE hazard code: FR)

Fire is defined as urban, industrial or rural fires, linked to natural phenomena, such as electrical storms, earthquakes, droughts, etc.but not including wild fires, which refer to uncontrolled fire in rural areas, forests, plains, etc. Directly human-induced fires are classified as Technological Disaster.

Flash Flood (GLIDE hazard code: FF)

Flash Flood is defined as rapid inland floods due to intense rainfall A flash flood describes sudden flooding with short duration. In sloped terrain the water flows rapidly with a high destruction potential. (CRED EM-DAT)

Flood (GLIDE hazard code: FL)

Flood is a general term for the overflow of water from a stream channel onto normally dry land in the floodplain (riverine flooding), higher-than- normal levels along the coast and in lakes or reservoirs (coastal flooding) as well as ponding of water at or near the point where the rain fell (flash floods). (CRED EM-DAT)

Heat Wave (GLIDE hazard code: HT)

Heat Wave is defined as a prolonged period of excessively hot and sometimes also humid weather relative to normal climat patterns of a certain region. Heat waves like in Central Europe 2003. (CRED EM-DAT)

Insect Infestation (GLIDE hazard code: IN)

Insect infestation is defined as the pervasive influx and development of insects or parasites affecting humans, animals, crops and materials. (CRED EM-DAT)

Land Slide (GLIDE hazard code: LS)

Land Slide is defined as the usually rapid downward movement of a mass of rock, earth, or artificial fill on a slope. Covers all mass movements other than Mudslide (MS) and Avalanche (AV). (CRED EM-DAT)

Mud Slide (GLIDE hazard code: LS)

Mud slide is defined as a type of landslide, which occurs when the slope is saturated with water. This more destructive flow can pick up rocks, trees, houses and cars. As the debris moves into river and stream beds, bridges can become blocked or even collapse, making a temporary dam that can flood neighbouring areas. (GLIDE)

Other (GLIDE hazard code: OT)

Other is defined as all natural disasters that do not fall into any of the other disaster types. Special situations such as energy crisis, etc.

Severe Local Storm (GLIDE hazard code: ST)

A severe storm or thunderstorm (GLIDE hazard code: ST) is the result of convection and condensation in the lower atmosphere and the accompanying formation of a cumulonimbus cloud. A severe storm usually comes along with high winds, heavy precipitation (rain, sleet, hail), thunder and lightning.

Snow Avalanche (GLIDE hazard code: AV)

Snow Avalanche (GLIDE hazard code: AV) is defined as mass of snow and ice falling suddenly down a mountain slope and often taking with it earth, rocks and rubble of every description. (CRED EM-DAT)

Storm Surge (GLIDE hazard code: SS)

Storm Surge (GLIDE hazard code: SS) is defined as the rise of the water level in the sea, an estuary or lake as result of strong wind driving the seawater towards the coast. This so-called wind setup is superimposed on the normal astronomical tide. The mean high water level can be exceeded by five and more metres. The areas threatened by storm surges are coastal lowlands. (CRED EM-DAT)

Technological Disaster (GLIDE hazard code: AC)

Technological disasters are only covered on a very exceptional basis, such as oil/toxic spills and gas explosions, when they have a major humanitarian impact in highly vulnerable countries.

Tropical Cyclone (GLIDE hazard code: TC)

"Hurricane", "cyclone" and "typhoon" (GLIDE hazard code: TC) are different terms for the same weather phenomenon which is accompanied by torrential rain and maximum sustained wind speeds (near centre) exceeding 119 kilometers per hour: In the western North Atlantic, central and eastern North Pacific, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, such a weather phenomenon is called "hurricanes"; In the western North Pacific, it is called "typhoons"; In the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, it is called "cyclones"; In western South Pacific and southeast India Ocean, it is called “severe tropical cyclones”; In the southwest India Ocean, it is called “tropical cyclones.” (WMO)

Tsunami (GLIDE hazard code: TS)

Tsunami is defined as a series of waves (with long wavelengths when traveling across the deep ocean) that are generated by a displacement of massive amounts of water through underwater earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or landslides. Tsunami waves travel at very high speed across the ocean but as they begin to reach shallow water they slow down and the wave grows steeper. (CRED EM-DAT)

Volcano (GLIDE hazard code: VO)

Volcanic eruption with disastrous effects: eruption and emission of gas and ashes, stone falls (pyroclast), flows of lava, etc.

Wild Fire (GLIDE hazard code: WF)

Wild Fire (GLIDE hazard code: WF) is defined as ny uncontrolled and non-prescribed combustion or burning of plants in a natural setting such as a forest, grassland, brush land or tundra, which consumes the natural fuels and spreads based on environmental conditions (e.g., wind, topography). Wildfires can be triggered by lightning or human actions. (CRED EM-DAT)

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Vulnerable Groups

  • Aged Persons

  • Children

  • IDPs

  • Persons with Disabilities

  • Refugees

  • Women

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Primary Country

The country where the crisis or intervention activities are taking place or to which policies refer. Other countries mentioned would be secondary tags. In case of refugee situations, the primary country would be the focus, for instance, if the document talks about protection concerns of Iraqi refugees in Kuwait, the latter is the primary country. When multiple countries are equally affected, the most vulnerable is the primary country.

For global reports that focus on a particular humanitarian issue as opposed to specific countries/situations, ‘World’ is the primary country. This also applies to reports that look in detail at several countries.

The primary country is displayed in full in content rivers with other countries indicated in numbers (e.g. Syria + 3 other). The primary country is clickable for further navigation.

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Career Category (applies to Jobs and Training)

Administration/Finance

Administration/Finance pertains to operational and financial activities related to running an organization; financial and operational management and oversight of assets and resources of an organization and its activities including budgeting, accounting, auditing; and general office support.

Donor Relations/Grants Management

Donor Relations/Grants Management covers activities related to fundraising, such as developing proposals for resource mobilization; managing and maintaining partnerships; monitoring and reporting on funds received in accordance with donor agreements.

Human Resources

Human Resources covers management of people within organizations, such as recruitment, hiring, retention, training and career development of employees for the successful operation of organizations.

Information and Communications Technology

Information and Communications Technology covers planning and managing ICT infrastructure to create, process, store, access and transmit all forms of information and electronic data, including audio-visual and telecommunication networks, software and application development, hardware and network architecture to meet the ICT needs of an organization.

Information Management

Information Management covers collecting, consolidating, analyzing, visualizing and/or sharing of data/information about crises/disasters including developing and maintaining standards, databases, systems, tools, platforms and products; Includes mapping/GIS functions.

Logistics/Procurement

Logistics/Procurement refers to the supply chain management covering planning and execution of guidance and policy of acquisitions, procurement, warehousing, asset/inventory management, transportation and freight planning of goods and resources. Includes maintenance and security of vehicles, physical assets, premises and staff.

Advocacy/Communications

Advocacy/Communications covers developing and implementing strategies to build support for agenda and policy by the public and decision-makers; delivering public information using various communication channels and methods such as campaigns, print, internet, social media, digital and audio/visual; building and facilitating strategic media contacts; includes translation services.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and Evaluation covers collecting and assessing information on quality and progress of projects and programmes, designing methodologies and evaluation tools; recommending best practices and lessons learned to improve effectiveness and impact of activities through reports, training/workshop, etc.

Program/Project Management

Program/Project Management pertains to the management of all stages of a program/project cycle - planning, design development, proposal writing, implementation, reporting, program/project operations, quality assurance and compliance; overseeing staff and processes, and facilitating strategic contacts.

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Training Type (applies to Training)

Academic Degree/Course

Academic Degree/Course includes training opportunities provided by academic and research institutions, and/or non-academic institutions' programs that are accredited by academic institutions.

Conference/Call for Papers

Conference/Call for Papers includes events such as symposiums, summits, forums and call for papers. Does not include shorter, lecture- and discussion-style events.

Lecture/Discussion

Lecture/Discussion includes short events, advertised as talks, lectures, discussions, report launches, including e.g., Twitter chats, webinars.

Training/Workshop

Training/Workshop includes specialized programs/events focusing on knowledge and skill-set development.

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Status (applies to Disasters)

Current

A disaster with significant humanitarian impact and and ongoing response and/or recovery and reconstruction operations.

Alert

A developing disaster situation that has the potential for significant humanitarian impact.

Past

A disaster with significant humanitarian impact for which there haven’t been any substantive updates in over four weeks or for which there is evidence that the main response activities have been completed.

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Organization type

Academic and Research Institution

Academic and Research Institution includes universities, colleges, think tanks, private organizations focusing on research and analysis.

Government

Government includes national and local government agencies, including development, emergency, civil protection, etc.

International Organization

International Organization includes international governmental organizations and UN agencies, funds and programmes.

Media

Media includes local, national and international print, TV, online and radio media agencies.

Non-governmental Organization

Non-governmental Organization includes organizations that operate independently from any government, including civil society.

Other

Other includes all that are not applicable to other organization types e.g. sources belonging to the private sector such as corporate charity arms or foundations, for-profit recruitment firms and consultancies.

Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement

Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement includes IFRC, ICRC and national Red Cross/Crescent societies.

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