The complex emergency database: A global repository of small-scale surveys on nutrition, health and mortality

Chiara Altare, Debarati Guha-Sapir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Evidence has become central for humanitarian decision making, as it is now commonly agreed that aid must be provided solely in proportion to the needs and on the basis of needs assessments. Still, reliable epidemiological data from conflict-affected communities are difficult to acquire in time for effective decisions, as existing health information systems progressively lose functionality with the onset of conflicts. In the last decade, health and nutrition humanitarian agencies have made substantial progress in collecting quality data using small-scale surveys. In 2002, a group of academics, nongovernmental organizations, and UN agencies launched the Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) methodology. Since then, field agencies have conducted thousands of surveys. Although the contribution of each survey by itself is limited by its small sample and the impossibility to extrapolate results to national level, their aggregation can provide a more stable view of both trends and distributions in a larger region. The Complex Emergency Database (CEDAT) was set up in order to make best use of the collective force of these surveys. Functioning as a central repository, it can provide valuable information on trends and patterns of mortality and nutrition indicators from conflict-affected communities. Given their high spatial resolution and their high frequency, CEDAT data can complement official statistics in between nationwide surveys. They also provide information of the displacement status of the measured population, pointing out vulnerabilities. CEDAT is hosted at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, University of Louvain. It runs on voluntary agreements between the survey implementer and the CEDAT team. To date, it contains 3309 surveys from 51 countries, and is a unique repository of such data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere109022
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 21 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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