General Definitions and Concepts
EM-DAT was designed in 1988 based on an anthropocentric vision of disasters and emergencies1. It considers disasters to be events involving an unexpected and overwhelming harmful impact on human beings. Formally, EM-DAT’s definition of a disaster is:
Definition : DisasterA situation or event which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to the national or international level for external assistance; an unforeseen and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction, and human suffering.
EM-DAT inventories only disasters that fit its Inclusion Criteria. EM-DAT records both disasters triggered by natural hazards and technological disasters. The latter are unintentional accidents, and not situations of conflict, violence, or terrorism. For more details, we refer to the Disaster Classification System.
NoteEM-DAT reports disaster impacts per country and per hazard type. However, for some disasters, this simple representation may not capture the situation’s complexity, systemic and composite effects, nor its subsequent uncertainties (see General issues).
Guha-Sapir, D. and Misson, C.: The Development of a Database on Disasters, Disasters, 16, 74–80, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7717.1992.tb00378.x, 1992. ↩︎