The Natural Disaster Database for Central Africa

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Practical guidelines

The basic criterion for inclusion in the database is material damage (houses destroyed or crop losses) and/or human loss. Where there has been doubt as to the classification of an event, it has been defined according to the manner in which it has been reported. The following natural phenomena are included in the database:

  1. Volcanic activity – Lava flows, gas emissions and explosive eruptions.
  2. Seismic activity – Reported earthquakes of a magnitude of 4 or higher on the Richter Scale, and/or where the population is affected.
  3. Drought – Prolonged periods of low or absent rainfall.
  4. Storms – Tropical storms, hailstorms, torrential rainstorms and strong winds.
  5. Flooding – Reported inundations causing material or human loss.
  6. Landslides – Transport of superficial material, including that caused by landslides, mudflows and falling rock.
  7. Ravine erosion – Severe erosion visible in satellite imagery and/or that has caused material or human loss.

For each event the following information is given:

  • Disaster ID – This is a specific identification number assigned to an event; it is devised from the year in which the event occurred, the number (or letter) of the event in that year, and the country code (e.g. 1998-A-BDI).
  • Location – The country, province, and specific coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the event are noted where possible. Georeferencing was carried out using a system developed by CRED. Please note that a single event may affect a wide area, and that there may therefore be several entries, in different locations, of the same event (same disaster ID).
  • Disaster type – This is disputable, since often a disastrous event may be classified under more than one category, or may involve more than one disaster simultaneously. The disaster type as reported is consequently noted.
  • Start and end date – As precisely as possible, though the start and end dates of longer term disasters, such as droughts, are difficult to define. Formulated as year/month/day.
  • Number of people affected – The sum of the reported number of people left homeless and those injured during an event.
  • Number of people killed – The number of deaths directly resulting from an event.
  • Structural damage – Includes all material damage that may have occurred, such as loss of crops and destruction of buildings.
  • Source – The original source of the information. An entry has been noted to be more reliable the more sources it has. Sources include international news agencies, NGO reports (, scientific articles, and information passed on by individual members of the RéCO. We also consulted several existing natural disaster databases, most notably the emergency database EM-DAT ( maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the Université Catholique de Louvain. A few other Internet sources, including Catastrophes Naturelles (, Dartmouth Flood Observatory ( and Glide Number ( provided useful information.
The information provided in this database is open to use by the public. If it is used for publication, please remember to refer to: NDDCA: The Natural Disaster Database for Central Africa (year consulted), Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium,