Additional Disaster Data Resources

Choose a database category:
International | Regional | National | Sub-national | Events | Country-level events

The systematic collection of information related to the frequency and impact of disasters provides an invaluable tool to governments and institutions in charge of funding planning and relief activities. However, there is a lack of international consensus regarding best practice for collecting data on natural disasters. Along with the complexity of collecting information in disasters due to the constraints of time, funding, and the complexity of the situation there also remains huge variability in definitions, methodology, sources, and data points collected.

In preparation for the ProVention Consortium's Global Risk Identification Program (GRIP) Workshop on the Compilation of Reliable Data on Natural Disaster Occurrence and Impact, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) have undertaken a review of existing available historical disaster databases. The databases profiled here represent only a fraction of the enormous effort that has taken place to better document the effects of natural and technological disasters. The content, presentation, and accessibility of international, national, regional, and event-specific disaster loss databases have been summarized. The objective is to provide as comprehensive a view as possible of the current disaster database landscape to better identify gaps in information and strengths in our individual interpretations.

Natural disasters were defined as follows; drought, earthquakes, epidemics, extreme temperatures, floods, insect infestation, slides, volcanoes, waves/surges, wildfires, windstorms, industrial accidents and transport accidents. Disaster types such as panic, accident, and structural were also included. Database which collect any or all of the above disaster types were included. Where possible attempts were made to ascertain the criteria for what constitutes a disaster however a database was not excluded if no definition was provided. Databases with restricted access, under construction, or under the domain of another organization are not listed here. As the aim was to identify historical databases searches were not limited to a specific time-period. Regrettably, searches were limited to English language databases.

Reviewed databases were restricted to those that systematically collected information relating to human and/or economic losses due to disaster. Hazard databases such as the National Climatic Data Center's (NCDC) drought database (http://www.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/smcd/emb/vci/current.html) which only provide reports of trends were excluded. Recycled versions of profiled databases (World Disasters Report of the IFRC) were excluded. Disaster databases such as ReliefWeb (http://www.reliefweb.net) were ultimately not included in the review because although ReliefWeb provides useful country profiles and links to disaster resources it does not appear to collect searchable disaster statistics relating to human and economic loss.

For ease of reference the reviews of databases have been broken up into categories; international, regional, national, subnational, disaster event, and country-level disaster databases. Although some databases conceivably span two categories, as is the case with national event-specific databases, for the most part the category into which each database belongs is clear.

Em-Dat
EM-DAT Emergency Disasters Database
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