Improved Database for the Social and Economic Analysis of Disaster Impacts


Through this activity, ProVention aimed to make publicly available a high quality global database of socio-economic impacts of disasters and to improve future data quality through systematic reporting of standardised disaster damage assessment data.

The project began by establishing a working group that included the three main sources of data for disaster losses: Munich Re, Swiss Re, and the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). Four test countries were identified and data extracted for comparison of the three global data sets on disaster impacts: CRED's EM-DAT database, Munich Re's NatCat; and Swiss Re's Sigma database. Data were presented and discussed by the working group in February 2001, and CRED prepared an assessment report on the exercise with recommendations for improving data quality. The report states that while certain differences in the three datasets can be attributed to the fact that they are intended for different audiences, an important conclusion is that none of the three databases has adequate data on the socio-economic impacts of disasters.

Improved data quality in this area is essential to justifying and promoting investments in disaster prevention and preparedness. Since CRED's database is accessible by the public and aimed at the development community, follow-up has focused on improving the quality and utility of EM-DAT. The number of natural disasters logged in EM-DAT has increased, and sources are verified for completeness of information. In addition, four new data fields have been added to EM-DAT following recommendations from the Technical Assistance Group in which ProVention participated.

Next Steps

ProVention continues to aim to improve the quality, availability and access to analysis, data and information on natural hazard risks through the Global Risk Identification Programme, an initiative co-led by UNDP and ProVention.