Towards the R package emdat: Losses from Global Disasters, Part 1

November 18, 2013
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(This article was first published on Nine Lives, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

The International Disaster Database, EM-DAT from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED, Belgium) is often used as a reference for losses on human life and property resulting from natural and man-made disasters. This database has over 20,000 country-level records from the early 1900s to the present. Data is available for free from EMDAT.

Some Cons:

  • Some cleaning of the data is required. For instance, the country names used by EMDAT are not always the same as those used by ISO. Hence, making spatial maps in R would involving fixing these names. 
  • Information such as GDP, population and Consumer Price Index have to be used to "normalize" or adjust monetary losses from the past. The EMDAT database does not provide such information. 
  • Annual reports published by EMDAT are not consistent with one another in terms of number of disasters per year or the total number of people affected/killed.

My goal is to create an R package which comes with pre-processed and cleaned EMDAT data and which would also include above-mentioned additional country-level information. Moreover, this R package would have the functionality to extract and analyze the data.

Here is a preliminary analysis of the data. Please see - https://github.com/RationShop/emdat/blob/master/publish_part1.md

All code and graphics are at my GitHub site - https://github.com/RationShop/emdat

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