ANNEX 11: Glossary

Acute food insecurity

Food insecurity found in a specified area at a specific point in time and of a severity that threatens lives or livelihoods, or both, regardless of the causes, context or duration. Has relevance in providing strategic guidance to actions that focus on short-term objectives to prevent, mitigate or decrease severe food insecurity.54


Affordability refers to the ability of people to buy foods in their local environment. In this report, cost refers to what people have to pay to secure a healthy diet, while affordability refers to the cost relative to a person’s income, minus other required expenses. In Section 2.2, affordability is determined by comparing the cost of a healthy diet with income distributions available in the Poverty and Inequality Platform (PIP) of the World Bank. This allows to compute the percentage and number of people in each country who are not able to afford a healthy diet.bp

Agrifood systems

Agrifood systems, a term increasingly used in the context of transforming food systems for sustainability and inclusivity, are broader as they encompass both agricultural and food systems and focus on both food and non-food agricultural products, with clear overlaps. Agrifood systems encompass the entire range of actors and their interlinked value-adding activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products. They comprise all food products that originate from crop and livestock production, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the broader economic, societal and natural environments in which these diverse production systems are embedded.

Animal source foods

All types of meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, insects, grubs, eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurt and other milk products.47, 55

Catchment areas

In this report, catchment areas refer to rural locations that gravitate around a specific urban centre in terms of access to markets, services and employment opportunities. The concept is based on the Central Place Theory (CPT),56 which incorporates the functional interdependence between a central place (i.e. a town or an urban centre) and its surrounding rural area along with the hierarchical level of the central place’s goods and services.36


Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years.57

Climate change

Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g. by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.57

Climate extreme (extreme weather or climate event)

The occurrence of a value of a weather or climate variable above (or below) a threshold value near the upper (or lower) ends of the range of observed values of the variable. For simplicity, both extreme weather events and extreme climate events are referred to collectively as “climate extremes”.58

Climate shocks

Climate shocks include not only those disturbances in the usual pattern of rainfall and temperatures but also complex events like droughts and floods. Equivalent to the concept of a natural hazard or stress, they are exogenous events that can have a negative impact on food security and nutrition, depending on the vulnerability of an individual, a household, a community, or systems to the shock.59, 60, 61, 62

Climate variability

Refers to variations in the mean state and other statistics (standard deviations, the occurrence of extremes, etc.) of the climate on all spatial and temporal scales beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to natural internal processes within the climate system (internal variability), or to variations in natural or anthropogenic external forcing (external variability).57


Conflict as used in this report is defined as struggles between interdependent groups that have either actual or perceived incompatibilities with respect to needs, values, goals, resources or intentions. This definition includes (but is broader than) armed conflict – that is, organized collective violent confrontations between at least two groups, either state or non-state actors.

Diet quality

Comprised of four key aspects: variety and/or diversity (within and across food groups), adequacy (sufficiency of nutrients or food groups compared to requirements), moderation (foods and nutrients that should be consumed with restraint) and overall balance (composition of macronutrient intake). Exposure to food safety hazards is another important quality aspect.

Dietary energy requirements

The amount of dietary energy, measured in kilojoules or kilocalories (often referred to as calories), required by an individual to maintain body functions, health and normal activity. Dietary energy requirements are dependent upon age, sex, body size and level of physical activity. Additional energy is required to support optimal growth and development in children and in women during pregnancy, and for milk production during lactation, consistent with the good health of mother and child.

Downstream food supply chains

Downstream food supply chains involve those segments more directly related to consumer purchases, that is marketing, retail and trade.


A period of abnormally dry weather lasting long enough to cause a serious hydrological imbalance.57

Economic downturn

Refers to a period of decline in economic activity or negative growth as measured by the growth rate in real GDP. It is a synonym for economic recession, a temporary or short-term downturn in economic growth, usually occurring over at least two consecutive quarters of decline. In the analyses and figures presented in this report, an economic downturn is identified using the year as a period of reference.

Economic shock

An unexpected or unpredictable event that is external to the specific economy and can either harm or boost it. A global financial crisis causing bank lending or credit to fall, or an economic downturn in a major trading partner of a country reflect demand-side shocks that can have multiple effects on spending and investment. A steep rise in oil and gas prices, natural disasters that result in sharp falls in production, or conflict that disrupts trade and production, are examples of supply-side shocks.

Economic slowdown

Refers to economic activity that is growing at a slower pace compared with the previous period. An economic slowdown occurs when real GDP growth declines from one period to another, but it is still positive. In the analyses and figures presented in this report, an economic slowdown is identified using the year as the period of reference, although it is usually measured in quarters of a year.

Energy-dense foods

Food with a high content of calories (energy) with respect to its mass or volume.

Extreme poverty

Refers to the percentage of people living on less than USD 2.15 a day (2017 PPP prices) in a country in a given year.33

Extreme weather or climate event

The occurrence of a value of a weather or climate variable above (or below) a threshold value near the upper (or lower) ends of the range of observed values of the variable. Many weather and climate extremes are the result of natural climate variability, and natural decadal or multi-decadal variations in the climate provide the backdrop for anthropogenic climate changes. Even if there were no anthropogenic changes in climate, a wide variety of natural weather and climate extremes would still occur.

Fiscal subsidies

Fiscal subsidies are budget transfers made by governments in the context of policy measures, projects and programmes to individual actors of the food and agriculture sector, such as farmers (fiscal subsidies to producers) or consumers (fiscal subsidies to consumers). Fiscal subsidies to producers aim to reduce production costs or increase farm income and can be granted depending on output, input use or use of other factors of production. Fiscal subsidies to consumers include transfers under social protection programmes (given to final consumers) and food subsidies to lower the cost of food (provided to intermediaries such as processors, traders, transporters).


The overflowing of the normal confines of a stream or other body of water, or the accumulation of water over areas not normally submerged. Floods include river (fluvial) floods, flash floods, urban floods, pluvial floods, sewer floods, coastal floods and glacial lake outburst floods.57

Food and agricultural marketing

This includes collective schemes for post-production facilities and other services designed to improve the marketing environment for food and agriculture – it includes all the stages of a product value chain, from farm input supply to retail markets. For example, these services may include commodity grading schemes or agricultural machinery services. They may be services related to post-harvest losses, lower transaction costs, facilitating market exchange and trade, and strengthening or expanding supply networks.

Food away from home

Food away from home includes all meals (breakfast and brunch, lunch, dinner and snacks and non-alcoholic beverages) – including fast food, takeouts and deliveries – consumed at concession stands, buffets and cafeterias, and full-service restaurants, and meals purchased at vending machines or from mobile vendors. Also included are board (including at school); meals as pay; special catered events, such as weddings, bar mitzvahs and confirmations; school lunches; and meals away from home on trips.bq

Food environment

The food environment is the physical, economic, political and sociocultural context in which consumers engage with agrifood systems to make decisions about acquiring, preparing and consuming food.63

Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)

An experience-based food security scale used to produce a measure of access to food at different levels of severity that can be compared across contexts. It relies on data obtained by asking people, directly in surveys, about the occurrence of conditions and behaviours that are known to reflect constrained access to food.

Food security

A situation that exists when 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. Based on this definition, four food security dimensions can be identified: food availability, economic and physical access to food, food utilization and stability over time. The concept of food security is evolving to recognize the centrality of agency and sustainability. See below for the definition of these two additional elements.

Food security dimensions

In this report, food security dimensions refer to the four traditional dimensions of food security:

  1. Availability – This dimension addresses whether or not food is actually or potentially physically present, including aspects of production, food reserves, markets and transportation, and wild foods.
  2. Access – If food is actually or potentially physically present, the next question is whether or not households and individuals have sufficient physical and economic access to that food.
  3. Utilization – If food is available and households have adequate access to it, the next question is whether or not households are maximizing the consumption of adequate nutrition and energy. Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, dietary diversity and intra-household distribution of food, and access to clean water, sanitation and healthcare. Combined with good biological utilization of food consumed, this determines the nutritional status of individuals.
  4. Stability – If the dimensions of availability, access and utilization are sufficiently met, stability is the condition in which the whole system is stable, thus ensuring that households are food secure at all times. Stability issues can refer to short-term instability (which can lead to acute food insecurity) or medium- to long-term instability (which can lead to chronic food insecurity). Climatic, economic, social and political factors can all be a source of instability.

    The report also refers to two additional dimensions of food security that are proposed by the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS); however, they are not formally agreed upon by FAO or others, and there is not a negotiated agreed upon language. However, due to their relevance in the context of this report, they are included here. These two additional dimensions of food security are reinforced in conceptual and legal understandings of the right to food and are currently referred to and defined as follows:
  5. Agency refers to the capacity of individuals or groups to make their own decisions about what foods they eat; what foods they produce; how that food is produced, processed and distributed within food systems; and their ability to engage in processes that shape food system policies and governance.64
  6. Sustainability refers to the long-term ability of food systems to provide food security and nutrition in a way that does not compromise the economic, social and environmental bases that generate food security and nutrition for future generations.64
General services support (GSS)

Refers to public expenditure (or budget transfers) for the provision of public or collective goods and services that aim to create enabling and environmentally sustainable conditions for the food and agriculture sector. These services connect all economic actors of food supply chains and support the nexus between producers and consumers. The most common include research and development and knowledge transfer, inspection services, agricultural related infrastructure, public stockholding, and food and agricultural marketing, and promotion.


Governance refers to formal and informal rules, organizations, and processes through which public and private actors articulate their interests and make and implement decisions.65


A 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.66


The organized provision of medical care to individuals or a community. This includes services provided to individuals or communities by health service providers for the purpose of promoting, maintaining, monitoring or restoring health.

Healthy diets

Healthy diets: 1) start early in life with early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age, and continued breastfeeding until two years of age and beyond combined with appropriate complementary feeding; 2) are based on a great variety of unprocessed or minimally processed foods, balanced across food groups, while restricting highly processed food and drink products; 3) include wholegrains, legumes, nuts and an abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables; 4) can include moderate amounts of eggs, dairy, poultry and fish, and small amounts of red meat; 5) include safe and clean drinking water as the fluid of choice; 6) are adequate (i.e. reaching but not exceeding needs) in energy and nutrients for growth and development and meet the needs for an active and healthy life across the life cycle; 7) are consistent with WHO guidelines to reduce the risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases and ensure health and well-being for the general population; and 8) contain minimal levels or none, if possible, of pathogens, toxins and other agents that can cause foodborne disease. According to WHO, healthy diets include less than 30 percent of total energy intake from fats, with a shift in fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and the elimination of industrial trans fats; less than 10 percent of total energy intake from free sugars (preferably less than 5 percent); consumption of at least 400 g of fruits and vegetables per day; and not more than 5 g per day of salt (to be iodized).

Highly processed foods

Highly processed foods are foods that have been industrially prepared, including those from bakeries and catering outlets, and which require no or minimal domestic preparation apart from heating and cooking (such as bread, breakfast cereals, cheese, commercial sauces, canned foods including jams, commercial cakes, processed meats, biscuits and sauces).41 Highly processed foods can contain very high quantities of salt, free sugars and saturated or trans fats and these products, when consumed in high amounts, can undermine diet quality.br


Hunger is an uncomfortable or painful physical sensation caused by insufficient consumption of dietary energy. In this report, the term hunger is synonymous with chronic undernourishment and is measured by the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU).

Input subsidies

Government transfers to agricultural producers arising from policy measures based on farm use of inputs, or measures related to the provision of inputs.


Macronutrients are needed in larger quantities (in gram range) and are the major source of energy and bulk (volume) in our diets. They include carbohydrates, protein and fats. They are a main source of dietary energy, which is measured in calories. Getting sufficient energy is essential for everyone in order to maintain body growth, development and good health. Carbohydrates, protein and fats, in addition to providing energy, each have very specific functions in the body and must be supplied in sufficient amounts to carry out those functions.


An abnormal physiological condition caused by inadequate, unbalanced or excessive intake of macronutrients and/or micronutrients. Malnutrition includes undernutrition (child stunting and wasting, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies) as well as overweight and obesity.


Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals and are required in very small (micro) but specific amounts. Vitamins and minerals in foods are necessary for the body to grow, develop and function properly, and are essential for our health and well-being. Our bodies require a number of different vitamins and minerals, each of which has a specific function in the body and must be supplied in different, sufficient amounts.

Midstream food supply chains

Midstream food supply chains comprise the post-farm gate activities related to the logistics, processing and wholesale of food. This includes cleaning, sorting, packaging, transportation, storage and wholesaling of agricultural and food products.

Moderate food insecurity

Refers to the level of severity of food insecurity, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale, at which people face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food and have been forced to reduce, at times during the year, the quality and/or quantity of food they consume due to lack of money or other resources. It thus refers to a lack of consistent access to food, which diminishes dietary quality, disrupts normal eating patterns, and can have negative consequences for nutrition, health and well-being.

Nutrition transition

As incomes rise and populations become more urban, diets high in complex carbohydrates and fibre give way to more energy-dense diets high in fats, sugars and/or salt. These global dietary trends are accompanied by a demographic transition with a shift towards increased life expectancy and reduced fertility rates. At the same time, disease patterns move away from infectious and nutrient-deficiency diseases towards higher rates of overweight and obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases including coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer.

Nutritional status

The physiological state of an individual that results from the relationship between nutrient intake and requirements and the body’s ability to digest, absorb and use these nutrients.

Nutritious foods

These are referred to as safe foods that contribute essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals (micronutrients), fibre and other components to healthy diets that are beneficial for growth, and health and development, guarding against malnutrition. In nutritious foods, the presence of nutrients of public health concern including saturated fats, free sugars, and salt/sodium is minimized, industrially produced trans fats are eliminated, and salt is iodized.

Overweight and obesity

Defined as body weight that is above normal for height as a result of an excessive accumulation of fat. It is usually a manifestation of expending less energy than is consumed. In adults, overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m2 or more, and obesity as a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more. In children under five years of age, overweight is defined as weight-for-height greater than 2 standard deviations above the WHO Child Growth Standards median, and obesity as weight-for-height greater than 3 standard deviations above the WHO Child Growth Standards median.67

Prevalence of undernourishment (PoU)

An estimate of the proportion of the population that lacks enough dietary energy for a healthy, active life. It is FAO’s traditional indicator used to monitor hunger at the global and regional level, as well as SDG Indicator 2.1.1.


Resilience is the ability of individuals, households, communities, cities, institutions, systems and societies to prevent, resist, absorb, adapt, respond and recover positively, efficiently and effectively when faced with a wide range of risks, while maintaining an acceptable level of functioning and without compromising long-term prospects for sustainable development, peace and security, human rights and well-being for all.68


The probability or likelihood of occurrence of hazardous events or trends multiplied by the impacts if these events or trends occur. Risk to food insecurity is the probability of food insecurity resulting from interactions between a natural or human-induced hazard/shock/stress and vulnerable conditions.

Rural–urban continuum

Represents a different way of examining rural–urban spatial relationships across a continuum, rather than the more conventional rural/urban distinction. The rural–urban continuum views rural and urban areas not as separate spaces, but as two ends of a spectrum of settlements and catchment areas of different sizes and their linkages.

Severe food insecurity

The level of severity of food insecurity at which people have likely run out of food, experienced hunger and, at the most extreme, gone for days without eating, putting their health and well-being at grave risk, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale.

Staple foods

Staple foods are those eaten regularly, and in such quantities as to constitute the dominant part of the diet and supply a major proportion of total dietary energy. The main kinds of staple foods are cereals (e.g. rice, maize, wheat, rye, barley, oats, millet, sorghum), roots and tubers (e.g. potatoes, cassava, yams) and legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, soybean).55

Structural transformation

The theory of structural transformation describes the transformation of economies, initiated with an increase in agricultural productivity in rural areas leading to an agricultural surplus. The additional income from this surplus then generates demand for other goods and services stimulating the off-farm sectors of the economy. As a result, a gradual shift of jobs from the primary agriculture sector to the secondary and tertiary sectors takes place, typically located in urban areas. This encourages rural-to-urban migration, resulting in an economic transformation from a mainly agrarian to a more diversified national economy, attracting rural people to urban areas.69


Low height-for-age, reflecting a past episode or episodes of sustained undernutrition. In children under five years of age, stunting is defined as height-for-age less than −2 standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.


Undernourishment is defined as the condition in which an individual’s habitual food consumption is insufficient to provide the amount of dietary energy required to maintain a normal, active, healthy life. For the purposes of this report, hunger is defined as being synonymous with chronic undernourishment. The prevalence of undernourishment is used to measure hunger.


The outcome of poor nutritional intake in terms of quantity and/or quality, and/or poor absorption and/or poor biological use of nutrients consumed as a result of repeated instances of disease. It includes being underweight for one’s age, too short for one’s age (stunted), dangerously thin for one’s height (suffering from wasting) or deficient in vitamins and minerals (suffering from micronutrient deficiency).

Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA)

Urban and peri-urban agriculture can be defined as practices that yield foods and other outputs from agricultural production and related processes (transformation, distribution, marketing, recycling, etc.), taking place on land and other spaces within cities and surrounding regions. These involve urban and peri-urban actors, communities, methods, places, policies, institutions, systems, ecologies and economies, largely using and regenerating local resources to meet the changing needs of local populations while serving multiple goals and functions.70


Urbanization is a multifaceted social, cultural, economic and physical process that is the result of growing urban populations, the physical expansion of cities (i.e. the reclassification of rural to urban) and migration from rural to urban areas. This process is fickle and context-dependent, driven by intertwined factors including diverse economic developments such as the growth of agriculture, policy choices, natural resource availability and other events such as conflict or environmental degradation.69


Refers to the conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes that increase the susceptibility of an individual, community, assets or systems to the impacts of hazards.66 Vulnerability to food insecurity is the range of conditions that increases the susceptibility of a household to the impact on food security in case of a shock or hazard.


Low weight-for-height, generally the result of weight loss associated with a recent period of inadequate dietary energy intake and/or disease. In children under five years of age, wasting is defined as weight-for-height less than −2 standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.


Weather describes conditions of the atmosphere over a short period of time (minutes to days), whereas climate is how the atmosphere behaves over relatively longer periods of time (the long-term average of weather over time). The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time (see above definitions for climate, climate change, climate variability and climate extremes).71

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