IRDR Peril Classification and Hazard Glossary

Understanding and documenting impacts from natural hazards is the foundation for decision-making and policy-setting in disaster risk reduction. The impacts range from human effects such as displacement, homelessness and fatalities, to environmental (wetland loss, desertification) and economic losses (damage to property and crops). Documenting impacts in a standardised and comprehensive way is challenging largely due to the lack of common terminologies for perils, measurement methodologies, and human loss indicators. The inability to compare losses across hazards, space, and time hampers the assessment of the burden of disasters at global to local levels.

To overcome these challenges, the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme established a project on disaster loss data (DATA) to “study issues related to the collection, storage, and dissemination of disaster loss data” (IRDR 2013, 10). A recent product of the DATA Project Working Group is a standard hazard terminology as well as peril classification for operational use in loss databases, which was agreed upon by all members of the Working Group. The peril glossary offered in this document provides guidelines on event classification and a unified terminology for operating loss databases only. It is not intended as a comprehensive list of perils or as a conclusive definitional standard of hazards. This technical paper details the classification scheme and hazard definitions used in loss databases, which will be implemented over time in global databases such EM-DAT, NatCatService, and Sigma as well as in national databases such as DesInventar and SHELDUS (see Annex).

Publication date: March 2014
Number of pages: 25 pp.

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