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Here is a list of the terms used in the Logistics Operational Guide. For a wider research, you can refer to ReliefWeb website with over 5000 English humanitarian terms and acronyms, aggregated from some twenty different humanitarian glossaries.

ProcurementProcurement is the process of identifying and obtaining goods and services’ It includes sourcing and purchasing and covers all activities from identifying potential suppliers through to delivery from supplier to the users or beneficiary. (Source: "Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management" (2008), John Mangan, Chandra Lalwani, and Tim Butcher, publi shed byJohn Wiley and Sons, Ltd.)
PurchasingPurchasing is the specific function associated with the actual buying of goods and services from suppliers. (Source: "Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management" (2008), John Mangan, Chandra Lalwani, and Tim Butcher, publi shed byJohn Wiley and Sons, Ltd.)
SourcingSourcing is simply, “Identifying and working with appropriate suppliers”. (Source: "Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management" (2008), John Mangan, Chandra Lalwani, and Tim Butcher, publi shed byJohn Wiley and Sons, Ltd.)
LCALogistics Capacity Assessment
Emergency Logistics AssessmentAn emergency logistics assessment is the process of gathering, analysing and disseminating logistics related data and information in relation to the impact of a disaster. It determines the extent of the impact (through a situational assessment) and the logistical needs (through a needs assessment). Assessments should be continuous in nature and enable organisations to monitor changes as a response or intervention evolves.
Provider of last resortThe ‘provider of last resort’ concept is critical to the cluster approach, and without it the element of predictability is lost. It represents a commitment of sector leads to do their utmost to ensure an adequate and appropriate response. It is necessarily circumscribed by some basic preconditions that affect any framework for humanitarian action, namely unimpeded access, security, and availability of funding. Where there are critical gaps in humanitarian response, it is the responsibility of sector leads to call on all relevant humanitarian partners to address these. If this fails, then depending on the urgency, the sector lead as ‘provider of last resort’ may need to commit itself to filling the gap. If, however, funds are not forthcoming for these activities, the Cluster Lead cannot be expected to implement these activities, but should continue to work with the Humanitarian Coordinator and donors to mobilize the necessary resources. Likewise, where the efforts of the sector lead, the Humanitarian Country Team as a whole, and the Humanitarian Coordinator as the leader of that team are unsuccessful in gaining access to a particular location, or where security constraints limit the activities of humanitarian actors, the provider of last resort will still be expected to continue advocacy efforts and to explain the constraints to stakeholders. For cross-cutting areas such as Protection, Early Recovery and Camp Coordination, the concept of ‘provider of last resort’ will need to be applied in a differentiated manner. In all cases, however, sector leads are responsible for ensuring that wherever there are significant gaps in the humanitarian response they continue advocacy efforts and explain the constraints to stakeholders.
TransportThe activities involved in moving supplies from point of origin to internal customers or beneficiarie.
Military and Civil Defence AssetsMCDA comprise relief personnel, equipment, supplies and services provided by foreign military and civil defence organizations for international disaster relief assistance. When these forces are under UN control they are referred to as UN MCDA.
Other Deployed ForcesThese are all military and civil defence forces deployed in the region other than UN MCDA. They include the forces deployed by the Affected State and any foreign forces deployed under bilateral agreements or under the auspices of organizations other than the UN.
Emergency Relief Coordinator and Inter-Agency Standing CommitteeThe ERC is the Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and coordinates the international response to humanitarian emergencies and disasters.
Inter-Agency Standing Committee and Humanitarian CoordinatorThe IASC is chaired by the ERC and has the membership of all UN operational humanitarian agencies, with standing invitation to ICRC, IFRC, IOM, UNHCHR, the representative of the Secretary-General on IDPs, the World Bank and the three NGO consortia (ICVA, InterAction and SCHR). The decision whether to and who to appoint as Humanitarian Coordinator is made by the ERC, in consultation with the IASC.
INGOInternational Non Government Organisation
Inter-Agency Standing Committee - IASCThe IASC serves as the primary UN mechanism for inter-Agency co-ordination relating to humanitarian assistance in response to complex and major emergencies. The IASC is chaired by the ERC and consists of the Heads (or designated representatives) of the UN operational Agencies, i.e. FAO, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. At the heads of agency level, the IASC meets formally at least twice a year and deliberates on issues brought to its attention by the ERC and by the IASC Working Group (IASC-WG) (see more detail at
LCALogistics Capacity Assessment
UNDMTPUnited Nations Disaster Management Training Programme
USAIDUnited States Agency for International Development.
ADPCAsian Disaster Preparedness Centre
IFRCInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
UNHCRUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
WHOWorld Health Organisation
WFPWorld Food Programme
IOMInternational organisation for Migration
UNICEFUnited Nations Childrens’ Fund
DataData is simply units of information including perceptions, numbers, observations, fact or figures
InformationInformation is “useful data”. Data becomes information when it is meaningful, relevant and understandable to a particular audience at particular times and places, for particular purposes.
IndicatorA small set of data which is usually easy or cost effective to collect, highly correlated with other data, and from which useful and trust-worthy conclusions can be derived.
CIFThis is the customs basis of value i.e. the Cost, Insurance & Freight paid for the importation.
CustomerA customer is the final user or the identified final beneficiary of the logistics service. There are two sets of customers: internal and external customers. The internal customer is the user or beneficiary department within the same organisation and the external customer are the beneficiaries in the communities that we serve.
MonitoringTo review on a continuous basis the degree to which the logistics activity is completed and if targets are being met. This allows corrective actions to be taken.
EvaluationTo analyse progress towards meeting established objectives and goals. It is done on an ad hoc, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Evaluation provides feedback on whether plans have been met and the reasons for success or failure. It should also provide direction for future plans.
Cold ChainA network of refrigerators, cold stores, freezers and cold boxes organised and maintained so that vaccines are kept at the right temperature to remain potent during their transportation, storage and distribution from factory to the point of administration to the target population. (Taken from Mid Level Management Course for EPI Managers, Module 8: Cold Chain Management, World Health Organisation, 2004)
WarehouseA warehouse is: ‘A warehouse is a planned space for the storage and handling of goods and material.’ (Fritz Institute) In general, warehouses are focal points for product and information flow between sources of supply and beneficiaries. However, in humanitarian supply chains, warehouses vary greatly in terms of their role and their characteristics.
QualityThe working definition of quality is the minimum level of performance that fulfils a requirement. This highlights the importance of a precise description of the requirements. The “Standards” aim to facilitate the description of a requirement.
StandardsStandardisation by national and international bodies aims to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. It is a reference guide for all parties to define a requirement and to test and control its achievement by the selected goods. Most countries, if not all, have their national standardisation body. A large number are also members of ISO, the International Standardisation Organisation. All countries participating in ISO are gradually replacing their national standards by the corresponding ISO standards. Among the many national standards still in use for international trade, we very often find: BS (British Standard), GHOST (Russian Standard), DIN (German Standard), etc
LOLogistics Office
CBAComparative Bid Analysis
LPOLocal Purchase Order
GRNGoods Received Note
LQCLogistics Quality Control
ACFAction Contre la Faim
QCQuality Control
QAQuality Assurance
TMSTime & Motion Study
TQMTotal Quality Management
DistributionIn the humanitarian context and for the purpose of this document, “distribution” refers to the movement of goods from the point of sale and transfer of ownership to the point of final use. Some of the distribution activities include, materials handling, storage and warehousing, packaging, transportation, of material from a warehouse to the end user. The “final mile” is a critical part of the supply chain. This is where the risk of loss and insecurity tends to be high, where communication is the most sporadic, where monitoring is most difficult, where costs require close monitoring, and where the organisation has less direct control and but integrate with programme the most closely. This topic is intended to help develop an understanding of distribution.
IATAThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) is an association of air transport operators. It seeks to simplify and standardise air transport documentation, procedures and operational activity. Its members carry the bulk of the world’s scheduled air traffic around the world. IATA aims to help its members meet increasingly stringent and diverse national regulations without diminishing the speed and reliability of delivery across the world. For example, IATA has laid down requirements that ensure that global cargo security measures are harmonised and operationally manageable.
TACTThe Air Cargo Tariff (TACT) produces manuals to facilitate the movement of cargo by air, interpreting and detailing the complex IATA regulations. Its manuals list such things as specific country information on charges, import/export regulations and cargo agents’ details and carrier information such as inter-airline agreements and aircraft loading charts. It also publishes comprehensive rates listings three times a year.
Dangerous goods by airDangerous goods are defined as articles or substances that are capable of posing a risk to health, safety, property or the environment when transported by air and which are shown in the regulations related to the carriage of dangerous goods by air that are published by IATA . The IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) contain all provisions mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and all rules universally agreed by airlines to correctly package and safely transport dangerous goods by air. These rules are designed to protect the safety of aircraft, their passengers and crew. They are complex and if necessary advice should be sought from the airline or freight forwarder related to packaging, labelling and documentation.
Origins, Destination, RouteOrigins The movement of supplies can be both national (in country) and international (across boarders). International movements may involve movement of supplies: - from suppliers, pre-positioned stocks (hubs) or donors within the countries of origin. - from ports or airports in the country of origin to ports or airports in the destination country; - from the source (origin) through one country or several countries to the destination country. Destination Destination could be defined as the point at which the supplies/goods are required for use. However, to the transporter, the destination may be just the point of off-loading and not necessarily the end us point. Route The route is determined by several factors: - Security, availability of the appropriate mode of transport, funds, distance, access, urgency, available load capacity etc. Multi-Modal Using different modes of transport in the movement of one consignment.
Special OperationSpecial Operations (SOs) WFP draws-up Special Operations to speed-up the movement of food aid, regardless of whether the food is provided by the Agency itself. Typically, they involve logistics and infrastructure work and are designed to overcome operational bottlenecks. As the UN's leading logistics agency, WFP is well placed to resolve these problems. Special operations can cover: * repairs to roads, bridges, railways; * repairs to airports, port infrastructure and equipment; * intermittent airlifts; * provision of common logistics services including Joint Logistics Centres and communications initiatives. Such operations require input from a wide range of logistics experts, from those who upgrade ports and requisition warehouses, to truck drivers and telecom specialists. Source: Other organisations frequently rely on WFP logistics to reach the world's most hostile environments. Special Operations are short-term in nature and usually complement emergency operations or longer rehabilitation projects (PRROs). Special operations are funded by donor appeals carried out separately from the plea for funds covered under an EMOP or a PRRO.
UN-HASUnited Nations Humanitarian Air Service
CIFThis is the customs basis of value i.e. the Cost, Insurance & Freight paid for the importation.
AMDAsset Management Database, see "Inventory management guidelines proposal" Annex in Warehouse topic.
SPSStandard Procurement Systems, see Procurement topic
LRTLogistics Response Team
EDPExtended Delivery Point, more information in Distribution topic
KPIsKey Performance Indicator
Request for information - RFIA request for information (RFI) is a proposal requested from a potential seller or a service provider to determine what products and services are potentially available in the marketplace to meet a buyer's needs and to know the capability of a seller in terms of offerings and strengths of the seller.)
Request for quotation - RFQA request for quotation (RFQ) is used when discussions with bidders are not required (mainly when the specifications of a product or service are already known) and when price is the main or only factor in selecting the successful bidder).
Request for proposal -RFPA request for proposal (referred to as RFP) is an invitation for suppliers, often through a bidding process, to submit a proposal on a specific commodity or service.)
INCOTERMSInternational commercial terms (INCOTERMS) are series of international sales terms, published by International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and widely used in international commercial transactions. They are used to divide transaction costs and responsibilities between buyer and seller and reflect state-of-the-art transportation practices.
DemurrageThe term demurrage refers to payment (due or charged) when load is delayed/held-up/not loaded/off-loaded, etc. when agreed. Also applies if vehicle/ship/rail wagon delayed when empty. Most frequently found in shipping/rail transport. (Chartered institute of Transport & Logistics). In practice, demurrage is a fee charged by ocean carriers, trucking companies, and railroads when a container is not removed from the port by the last free day, as allocated in your agreement with the shipper. The demurrage fee and time vary from shipping line to shipping line. In general, demurrage charges begin to accrue 7 days after your container has been received by the terminal. Demurrage fees are registered daily, for each container in the entry. Therefore a 5 day late entry of 10 containers, charged at $100/day, will cost a total of $5000. Once demurrage fees are imposed, the terminal will not release your container until it is paid. Demurrage charges are most often caused by an untimely filing of the appropriate paperwork (Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice, Customs Bond, Packing List, and other required paperwork depending on the HTS code of the product). After 10 days of a demurrage, an entry is assigned to a G.O. (government order) warehouse, where it will accrue additional fees and penalties, along with being physically unloaded from a container, increasing the risk of theft & damage to your products. Similarly, demurrage can accrue by the detention of a rail road wagon or a truck beyond the agreed time.
VVMVaccines Vial Monitor
SKU - Stock-Keeping UnitA stock-keeping unit or SKU is a unique identifier for each distinct product and service that can be purchased. SKU use is rooted in data management, enabling the company to systematically track its inventory or product availability, such as in warehouses and retail outlets. They are often assigned and serialized at the merchant level. Each SKU is attached to an item, variant, product line, bundle, service, fee, or attachment. SKUs are not always associated with actual physical items, but are more appropriately billable entities.
POAPlan of Action, see Air Operations.
PiCPilot in Command, see Log Officer Responsibilities in Operational environment/Air Operations.
AETAirport Emergency Team
AFOAviation Field Operation, see Air Operations
MAWBInternational AWBs that contain consolidated cargo are called master air waybills (MAWB)
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