EM-DAT Overview

More than 26,000 disaster records

EM-DAT defines disasters as situations or events which overwhelm local capacity, necessitating a request for external assistance at the national or international level. Disasters are unforeseen and often sudden events that cause significant damage, destruction, and human suffering.

The main objective of the database is to serve the purposes of humanitarian action at national and international levels. The initiative aims to rationalize decision-making for disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction strategies, as well as provide an objective base for vulnerability assessment and priority setting.

Inclusion criteria

EM-DAT focuses on major disasters

EM-DAT globally records at the country level human and economic losses for disasters with at least one of the following criteria:

  • 10 fatalities;
  • 100 affected people;
  • a declaration of state of emergency;
  • a call for international assistance.

Disaster Classification

EM-DAT adopts a hierarchical classification

The database classifies disasters into two groups of hazards: natural and technological. The natural group is further classified up to four additional levels following the 2014 IRDR Peril Classification and Hazard Glossary. The technological group is less detailed and comprises three main types: transport, industrial, and miscellaneous accidents.

Pie Chart Classification

EM-DAT in numbers

About 2/3 of disasters in EM-DAT are related to natural hazards

About us

Behind EM-DAT

A long-term expertise

The Emergency Events Database EM-DAT was created in 1988 as a joint initiative between the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The CRED is now part of the Institute of Health and Society attached to the University of Louvain (UCLouvain). The EM-DAT database and project are primarily sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Host institution


Primary sponsor