Glossary

TermExplanation
AdvocacyOrganised actions, communications and campaigns seeking to influence particular selected groups of people, for example institutions such as government, in order to achieve change, towards enlightened policies in line with the needs of society.
Build Back BetterThe use of the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases after a disaster, to increase the resilience of nations and communities, through integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure and societal systems, and into the revitalization of livelihoods, economies and the environment.
Capacity building (or Capacity strengthening)Strengthening the ability of organisations such as CSOs to pursue their objectives through enhancing their skills, expertise, knowledge, organisation and resourcing.
Civil Society OrganisationOrganisations which are neither part of the State nor existing for profit, but advancing the causes of civil society, ranging from local and informal to formally established and accredited groups at local, national and international level.
Civil Society Organisation PlatformsCoordinating bodies of Civil Society Organisations enabling them to collaborate, speak with a common voice in advocacy, participate in shared actions and establish a common identity at national and regional scales.
DisasterA serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale, intensive or extensive (‘everyday’), due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability and capacity, leading to human, material, economic and environmental losses and impacts.
Disaster Risk ReductionDisaster risk reduction is aimed at preventing new – and reducing existing – disaster risk and managing residual risk, all of which contribute to strengthening resilience and therefore to the achievement of sustainable development and climate change adaptation.
EmergencyAn event such as a disaster recognised institutionally as requiring an immediate response. For example, in many countries a shock of sufficient scale triggers action under emergency legislation.
Everyday DisasterA term used to characterise ‘extensive’ disasters, reflecting their nature, which is often regular and persistent, but much smaller in scale than ‘intensive’ disasters.
ExposureThe situation of people, infrastructure, housing, production capacities and other tangible human assets located in hazard-prone areas.
Extensive DisasterAlso referred to as an ‘everyday’ disaster, UNDRR offer a more technical definition: low-severity, high-frequency hazardous events and disasters, mainly but not exclusively associated with highly localized hazards.
HazardA process, phenomenon or human activity that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, social and economic disruption, or environmental degradation, if local populations are exposed to the hazard and vulnerable to it.
Integrated DevelopmentThe principle of coordinating actions for sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to ensure that development gains are protected from risk.
Intensive DisasterHigh-severity, mid- to low-frequency disasters, mainly associated with major hazards.
Invisible disastersDisasters not reported or recognised by official monitoring systems, typically small-scale, extensive or ‘everyday’ disasters which therefore do not attract external support and are responded to only locally.
LocalisationEnhancing the role of local actors, such as local and national CSOs, and to direct more resources to these rather than through intermediaries such as INGOs. The term is often limited to changes in resource flows, but also concerns capacity and power, enabling decision-making to be localised.
LossesLosses from disasters include mortality and injury, loss of livelihoods, loss of assets and economic loss at local and national level. Many of these losses are from smaller scale extensive or ‘everyday’ disasters. In many cases losses are ‘non-economic’, or in other words do not have a direct market value, but they are nevertheless valuable, for example in terms of life, health, displacement and human mobility, territory, cultural heritage, indigenous/local knowledge, biodiversity and ecosystem services.
PlatformSee Civil Society Organisation Platform
PreparednessThe knowledge and capacities developed by governments, response and recovery organisations, communities and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from the impacts of likely, imminent or current disasters. This is distinct from Disaster Risk Reduction which seeks to reduce the risk of disasters occurring.
RecoveryThe restoring or improving of livelihoods and health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets, systems and activities, of a disaster-affected community or society, ideally aligning with the principles of sustainable development and ‘build back better’, to avoid or reduce future disaster risk, but often merely attempting to restore the former state.
ResilienceThe ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through risk management.
Resilient LivelihoodsLocal employment and economies which are not vulnerable to hazards but are sustained through local shocks and stresses.
ResponseActions taken directly before, during, or immediately after a disaster addressing immediate needs to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety and meet the basic subsistence needs of people affected.
RiskThe chance or probability that a person or people will be harmed when exposed to a hazard. It is defined by an equation: Risk = Hazard x Exposure x Vulnerability.
Slow onset disasterA disaster that does not emerge from a single, distinct event, but one that emerges gradually over time, often based on a confluence of different events.
SurgeInflux of actors such as INGOs, other international agencies and volunteers from other parts of the country, in response to a major intensive disaster.
Sustainable DevelopmentDevelopment that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Views From the Frontline (VFL)A risk assessment programme led by the Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR) consulting local communities and other local actors and producing analysis and findings at local, national and global level for use in learning and advocacy. The programme identifies threats and their consequences, the actions to overcome them, and the barriers that prevent action. The risk assessments don’t simply cover hazards, but identify a broader range of threats such as poverty, unemployment, diseases, conflict, pollution and climate change.
VulnerabilityA condition determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes which increases the susceptibility of an individual, a community, assets or systems, to the impacts of hazards.