Development and relief agencies have long recognized the crucial role played by data and information in mitigating the impacts of disasters on vulnerable populations. Systematic collection and analysis of these data provides invaluable information to governments and agencies in charge of relief and recovery activities. They are also crucial in the integration of health components into development and poverty alleviation programmes.

Yet there is still no international consensus regarding best practices for collecting these data. Together with the complexity of collecting reliable information, there remains huge variability in definitions, methodologies, tools and sourcing.

EM-DAT provides an objective basis for vulnerability assessment and rational decision-making in disaster situations. For example, it helps policymakers identify the disaster types that are most common in a given country and that have had significant historical impacts on human populations.

In addition to providing information on the human impact of disasters - such as the number of people killed, injured or affected - EM-DAT provides disaster-related economic damage estimates and disaster-specific international aid contributions.

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