Disaster Relief

Disaster Data & Statistics

Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) launched the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT). EM-DAT was created with the initial support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Belgian Government.
The main objective of the database is to serve the purposes of humanitarian action at national and international levels. The initiative aims to rationalise decision making for disaster preparedness, as well as provide an objective base for vulnerability assessment and priority setting.

Deaths from disasters
Decadal deaths and death rates

In the following two charts we explore global fatalities from natural disasters since 1900. In the first chart we report the total annual number of deaths from natural disasters, as the decadal average from 1900. In the second chart, we report the same data but as the annual rate of global deaths (measured per 100,000 of the world population). The data for both charts can be found in the tables presented..

Other human impacts from disasters
Human impacts from natural disasters are not fully captured in mortality rates. Injury, homelessness, and displacement can all have a significant impact on populations.

10 of the Deadliest Natural Disasters in 2018
Thousands of people around the world lost their lives to natural disasters in 2018, a tragic reminder of how rapidly natural disasters such as the wildfires in California can become deadly. The year ended with a deadly tsunami in Indonesia, capping the country’s worst annual death toll in more than a decade from natural disasters.

Top 11 Deadliest Natural Disasters in History

A drought is a period of below-average precipitation in a given region, resulting in prolonged shortages in its water supply, whether atmospheric, surface water or ground water. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 15 days. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region and harm to the local economy. Annual dry seasons in the tropics significantly increase the chances of a drought developing and subsequent bush fires. Periods of heat can significantly worsen drought conditions by hastening evaporation of water vapour.

Many plant species, such as those in the family Cactaceae (or cacti), have drought tolerance adaptations like reduced leaf area and waxy cuticles to enhance their ability to tolerate drought. Some others survive dry periods as buried seeds. Semi-permanent drought produces arid biomes such as deserts and grasslands. Prolonged droughts have caused mass migrations and humanitarian crises. Most arid ecosystems have inherently low productivity. The most prolonged drought ever in the world in recorded history occurred in the Atacama Desert in Chile (400 Years).

An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities. The seismicity or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time.

Earthquakes are measured using measurements from seismometers. The moment magnitude is the most common scale on which earthquakes larger than approximately 5 are reported for the entire globe. The more numerous earthquakes smaller than magnitude 5 reported by national seismological observatories are measured mostly on the local magnitude scale, also referred to as the Richter magnitude scale. These two scales are numerically similar over their range of validity. Magnitude 3 or lower earthquakes are mostly imperceptible or weak and magnitude 7 and over potentially cause serious damage over larger areas, depending on their depth. The largest earthquakes in historic times have been of magnitude slightly over 9, although there is no limit to the possible magnitude. Intensity of shaking is measured on the modified Mercalli scale. The shallower an earthquake, the more damage to structures it causes, all else being equal.

At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacement of the ground. When the epicenter of a large earthquake is located offshore, the seabed may be displaced sufficiently to cause a tsunami. Earthquakes can also trigger landslides, and occasionally volcanic activity.

In its most general sense, the word earthquake is used to describe any seismic event — whether natural or caused by humans — that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes are caused mostly by rupture of geological faults, but also by other events such as volcanic activity, landslides, mine blasts, and nuclear tests. An earthquake's point of initial rupture is called its focus or hypocenter. The epicenter is the point at ground level directly above the hypocenter.

A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land which is usually dry. The European Union (EU) Floods Directive defines a flood as a covering by water of land not normally covered by water. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide.

Flooding may occur as an overflow of water from water bodies, such as a river, lake, or ocean, in which the water overtops or breaks levees, resulting in some of that water escaping its usual boundaries, or it may occur due to an accumulation of rainwater on saturated ground in an areal flood. While the size of a lake or other body of water will vary with seasonal changes in precipitation and snow melt, these changes in size are unlikely to be considered significant unless they flood property or drown domestic animals.

Floods can also occur in rivers when the flow rate exceeds the capacity of the river channel, particularly at bends or meanders in the waterway. Floods often cause damage to homes and businesses if they are in the natural flood plains of rivers. While riverine flood damage can be eliminated by moving away from rivers and other bodies of water, people have traditionally lived and worked by rivers because the land is usually flat and fertile and because rivers provide easy travel and access to commerce and industry.

Some floods develop slowly, while others such as flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins.