The growing number of disasters requiring external assistance has prompted now interest in collaborative ventures, better donor co-ordination and a more rational approach to response. Increasingly, the emphasis is on preparedness and a "pro-active" response to replace ad hoc reactive approach of the past. Facilitating the exchange of information during disasters and in preparing for disasters is critical to the success of the international partnership and has been one of the goals of recent international workshops.
At a very fundamental level, knowledge of the vulnerability of developing countries to different types of disasters is necessary for the most effective relief and preparedness planning. The usefulness of a disaster events database as a tool in this planning has become increasingly evident to many government and international agencies engaged in disaster relief as well as in mitigation and prevention programmes.
In response to the need for better data on disaster occurrence, a number of databases have been established around the world, with different criteria, formats and purpose. These databases, while individually useful, have been generally limited in scope and have not been compatible with other existing databases. Inconsistencies, data gaps and ambiguity of terminology make comparisons and use of the different data sets difficult. This had let to a fair amount of confusion in the perception and evaluation of a disaster situation and poses a severe obstacle for planning and fund raising.
On the other hand, establishing a central database on all disaster events occurring in the world is an effort, which requires first of all, the data items to be included in the register. To be workable, these definitions have to be kept simple and concrete to allow easy collection of these data by field assessment teams. Standard procedures for the collection and reporting of these data also have to be worked out between all participants to this effort. In order to remain a manageable enterprise, the scope of this central database has to be limited only to essential data and agency specific information may be maintained as supplement to this core database.
Since 1988 the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) has been maintaining an Emergency Events Database - EM-DAT. EM-DAT was created with the initial support of the WHO and the Belgian Government.
The main objective of the database is to serve the purposes of humanitarian action at national and international levels. It is an initiative aimed to rationalise decision making for disaster preparedness, as well as providing an objective base for vulnerability assessment and priority setting. For example, it allows on to decide whether floods in a given country are more significant in terms of its human impact than earthquakes or whether a country is more vulnerable than another for computing resources is.
EMDAT contains essential core data on the occurrence and effects of over 12,500 mass disasters in the world from 1900 to present. The database is compiled from various sources, including UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, insurance companies, research institutes and press agencies.
Number of People
GEO Data Category:
Disasters, accidents, risk, safety
Risk, industrial accidents, killed people, national level
Prof. D. GUHA-SAPIR
Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters
Universite Catholique de Louvain
30.94 Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs
+32 (0) 2 764.33.27
+32 (0) 2 764.34.41
11, Chemin des Anemones
+41 22 917 82 94
+41 22 917 80 29
GIS Data Info
Statistics Data Info
The data is aggregated at subregional, regional and global level.
Data with zero ("0") value are related to accidents without involved people.
No data ("-9999") are considered as absence of reported accidents.
Calculated pre 1991-1992 relative country share
Former Yugoslavia SFR:
Affected: People requiring immediate assistance during a period of emergency, i.e. requiring basic
survival needs such as food, water, shelter, sanitation and immediate medical assistance (definition
considered in EM-DAT; included in the field «total affected»); Appearance of a significant number of
cases of an infectious disease introduced in a region or a population that is usually free from that
disease (100 or more people affected).
Killed: Persons confirmed as dead and persons missing and presumed dead (10 or more people
Homeless: People needing immediate assistance in the form of shelter (included in the field «total
affected»). They are always part of the affected population. Reporting from the field should give the
number of individuals that are homeless; if only the number of families or houses is reported, the
figure is multiplied by the average family size for the affected area (x5 for the developing countries, x3
for the industrialised countries, according to UNDP country list). (100 or more people homeless).
Injured: People suffering from physical injuries, trauma or an illness requiring medical treatment as a
direct result of a disaster (included in the field «total affected»). The number of injured is entered when
the term "injured" is written in the source. Injured people are always part of the affected population.
Any related word like "hospitalized" is considered as injured. If there is no precise number like
"hundreds of injured", 200 injured will be entered (although it is probably underestimated). (100 or
more people injured).
Total affected: In EM-DAT, people that have been injured, affected and left homeless after a disaster
are included in this category.
Disaster: Situation or event, which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to national or
international level for external assistance (definition considered in EM-DAT); An unforeseen and often
sudden event that causes great damage, destruction and human suffering. Though often caused by
nature, disasters can have human origins. Wars and civil disturbances that destroy homelands and
displace people are included among the causes of disasters. Other causes can be: building collapse,
blizzard, drought, epidemic, earthquake, explosion, fire, flood, hazardous material or transportation
incident (such as a chemical spill), hurricane, nuclear incident, tornado, or volcano.
Industrial accident: Disaster type term used in EM-DAT to describe technological accidents of an
industrial nature/involving industrial buildings (e.g. factories). It comprises of a number of disaster
subsets: "Chemical spill/leak"; "Explosions"; "Radiation leakages"; "Collapses"; "Gas leaks" from
industial sites; "Poisoning"; "Fires"; and other technological accidents involving industrial sites.
" Chemical spill ": Accident release occurring during the production, transportation or handling of
hazardous chemical substances.
" Explosions ": Explosions involving buildings or structures. Can either involve industrial structures or
domestic / non-industrial structures.
" Collapse ": Accident involving the collapse of building or structure. Can either involve industrial
structures or domestic / non-industrial structures.
" Poisoning ": Poisoning of atmosphere or water courses due to industrial sources.
" Urban fire ": Urban fire involving buildings or structures. Can either involve industrial structures or
domestic / non-industrial structures.