General Definitions and Concepts

What is a Disaster in EM-DAT?

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:

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.

  1. Guha-Sapir, D. and Misson, C.: The Development of a Database on Disasters, Disasters, 16, 74–80,, 1992. ↩︎