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Quick Instructions to use DesInventar, Disaster Information Management System
This section of the database is querying instrument and a tool for the thematic and spatial-temporal analysis of the disasters homogeneously compiled by DesInventar. Once you enter in to the database, you will find the tabbed interface as follows;
You can jump from any tab of the system to any other tab at any given time. That gives you, the user, a lot of freedom in the way you want to do your work. For example, you can specify what data you want in the Query tab, and then jump immediately to the Statistics tab in order to obtain statistics about the resulting query. The tabs that compose the interface are:
Query The Query window, used to determine what data is to be retrieved is displayed. In this screen you will be able to tell the system what is the information you want to see in terms of the dimensions described.
View Data This tab will always contain the simple tabular form of the results of your query. You will be able to see here the data records that comply with the specifications given in the Query tab.
Charts DesConsultar can generate several very powerful types of charts in this tab with the information you retrieve from the system.
Statistics This tab provides aggregates of the different variables found in the Database. Statistics may be generated for multiple variables and for up to three customizable levels of aggregation. The final result will be in tabular format and it allows importing data in to Excel work sheet.
Thematic Maps The Thematic Map tab generates colored maps that can show the spatial distribution of the query data. One of the most powerful features of database is the generation of thematic maps based on the information of the database. Spatial analysis is made possible with these maps.
Crosstab This tab provides aggregates of the different variables found in the Database organized as cross-tabbed tables. Crosstabs use always two dimensions (one vertical and one horizontal) as levels of aggregation. Also there is possibility to export final output in to the Excel format.
Note: please note that selections made from the query window apply when moving to or accessing any other tab. Also, you have to keep in mind that selection in each tab are remembered by the system. For example you may select a type of Chart (in the charts tab), jump to the query tab to modify another setting, and jump back to Charts and still find your setting there.


welcome to DesInventar
What is DesInventar?
Basic record
Query Management

welcome to DesInventar

The LatinAmerican Network of Social Studies on Disaster Prevention (LA RED) is pleased to present this Free, Open Source version of DesInventar for the web. This being product of the experience and effort of multiple researchers, users and of its software development team. This version enhances the utilities and provisions of former versions, guaranteeing the integrity and management of the available databases.

A diversity of users have an interest on DesInventar due to the posibility of having and managing a homogeneous and organized record of the existing information about disasters. It is a product that also helps to visualize the recorded phenomena in space and time.

LA RED has developed this instrument to provide the diverse roleplayers in risk management activities (researchers, research institutes, governments and emergency and disaster attention national planning systems, regional and local prevention bodies, aid organisms, international and bilateral agencies, so as to organized communitites and the media) with a product for the storage, processing, homogeneous analisis and representation of disasters, these being the adverse effects over populations, property and infrastructure that are vulnerable to natural and socionatural phenomena. The design and structure of DesInventar were conceived as flexible and adaptable, which makes it applicable to diverse units of a territorial, political-administrative, planning, environmental, management, institutional operations character, with resolution levels that range from national to detailed views (provinces, cities).

DesInventar is nowadays a methodology and an instrument used systematically in Latin American and Caribbean countries and for some year now (since 2002) its implementation started in Asia with a pilot in India (Orissa State). DesInventar is used by research and academic groups, cities, provinces and institutes of environmental management. More than 40 DesInventar�s databases are already in public domain. Please refer to our home and download pages.


The LatinAmerican Network of Social Studies on Disaster Prevention, constituted in 1992, formulated in its Agenda of Research and Organic Constitution (LA RED, COMECSO/ITDG, Lima, January 1993) that:

The population growth and urbanizing processes, the territorial ocupation tendencies, the growing impoverishment of important sectors of population, the use of inadequate technological systems in the construction of houses and the providal of basic infrastructure, the inadequate organizational systems, among others, have caused a continuous increase in the vulnerability of population to a wide diversity of physico-natural events.

However, due to the absence of systematic, homogeneous and disaster type comparable records, as well as to the absence of effects of the occurrence of threteaning events in the frame of the vulnerability conditions in each region, country or city, on the one hand and on the other hand, conceptions such as considering that disasters are only the effects of those events of great extent and of big impacts, have made invisible the thousands of small and middle disasters that annually occur in the countries of regions like Latin America, Caribe, Asia and Africa.

From another point of view, there are many institutions and researchers around the world that are interested in the subject. They use diverse tools to systematize the information about disasters. This information being generally databases or physical archives designed with specific criteria and very concrete or sectorial interests in unequal formats. Additionally there is a great volume of information ready to be stored and systematized , mainly from newspaper sources. This scattered information has to be compiled, homogeinized and analized. It also has to be referenced geography- cally because disasters are regionalized variables, (vulnerated communities and infrastructure) due to the effects produced by each type of event (threat).


A common objective in the regions and countries of Latin America and the Caribe, Asia and Africa is that of generating abilities to analize and represent in space and time, all the hazards, vulnerabilities and risks in a retrospective and prospective way so that they can be used in aplications on risk management, in tasks that go from disaster mitigation to attention and post-event recovery. The qualitative and quantitative evaluation of vulnerability and risk growth, requires the availability of a solid documental base and of a record of the occurred disasters as well as of the ones that are happening daily, and of the ones that will happen.

As a contribution to the accomplishment of these common goals for diverse regions, LA RED started at the end of 1993 with the project, Disaster Inventory in Latin America, which in its pilot project stage consisted on:

a) Discussing and meeting conceptual and methodological criteria over the analitical treatment of the small, middle and big disasters;

b) Store the information about disasters that happened in the period 1990-1994, from available sources like Latin American countries (M�xico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Per� y Argentina) and

c) Develop a computer system tool for such purpose. DesInventar is a synthesis of the process by which the research groups committed to LA RED suggest a conceptual and methodological unified frame about disasters and the tool to achieve the development of the proposed objectives. The basic criteria that guides DesInventar are:

- All the inventories have the same variables for measuring effects, with a homogeneous basic clasification of events.

- The stored and processed information is entered into the timescale and into a georeferenced spatial level.

- The inventories may be treated analitically, through computer system tools, as a basic requirement to produce comparative researches and to support the decision taking over actions on mitigation and in general, over actions taken on risk management.

DesInventar is also an instrument that helps to visualize, in space and time, the registrated phenomena, by means of its complementary tool, the Query Module or DesConsultar.

what is DesInventar?

DesInventar is a analysis instrument, a tool of time/space analysis of disaster inventories. It was designed as a supporting tool for the understanding of the disasters, as an insert recurring in everyday relations between the dynamics of the society and their technological advances and those of nature. DesInventar allows to conduct exhaustive and specific queries permiting to reveal the characteristics and effects of disasters.

The easyness of statistic analysis and the spacial representation of the queries are oriented to suggest the users some answers, and hopefully many questions, about the dimensions of one of the most well know modern conflicts: the disasters produced by relations SOCIETY, DEVELOPEMENT and ENVIRONMENT.


A region in DesInventar is fully contained in a database and is optionally characterized by its cartography. Its name usually indicates the geographical coverage of the database.

DesInventar Basic Record

Basic record
All DesInventar databases are composed of a collection of records, called "DataCards". The basic record contains a standard set of indicators and information about the effects of a disaster on a geographic unit. Please refer to the Methodological Guide of DesInventar for more information.

Serial record number

This field identifies a number, an acronym or code for the record, so that it can be identified. To enter the information, it is recomended to assign numbers in a sequential way, although it is not compulsory. This field may also include letters, hyphens and other typefaces. It is recommended that the number you assign corresponds to a characteristic of the original record (for example, in paper), or that you may transcribe on it, to facilitate future references or inspections. Observe that it is possible to have more than one record with the same serial number, meaning that the serial numbers are NOT unique.

Disaster date

It is composed of three fields and indicates the date of occurrence of the disaster, in arabic numbers. First the year, then the month and finally the day. The year must be written completely, for example: 1995, 1845, etc. The letters YMD (Year,Month,Day) remind you of the order in which to type the numbers. IMPORTANT: DesInventar doesn�t require initial zeros for one digit months and days. If these are entered DesInventar avoids them without affecting the consistency of the information in the database. For example, if you type month 06, DesInventar will register only the 6.

Information sources

Indicates the source(s) of information: the means of information, the preexisting database(s) and the entity or entities from which the information was obtained.

Geography Level 0

Its title varies depending on the names of the levels. It may be an administrative district, state, etc..., depending on the nomenclature for each country. This is A COMPULSORY FIELD for the entering of information to the record, because it is the minimum posible level of georeferentiation.

Geography Level 1

Its title varies depending on the names of the levels. It may be a municipality, canton, etc..., and it corresponds to the second clasification level or political and administrative zonification. This field is NOT strictly compulsory but it MUST be typed when the disaster affects only one municipality. For example, in Mexico, if this level is not typed in , the program will asume that all the municipalities of the selected State were affected.

Geography Level 2

Its title varies depending on the names of the levels in its country or region. It may be a municipality, canton, etc..., and it corresponds to the third clasification level or political and administrative zonification. This field is NOT stricly compulsory but it exists when the disaster affects only one of these geographical units.

IF THIS FIELD IS NOT FILLED IN, DESINVENTAR WILL ASSUME THAT THE DISASTER AFFECTED ALL THE ELEMENTS IN THIS LEVEL WHICH BELONG TO THE PREVIOUS LEVEL. For example: Costa Rica, (Levels: Province, Canton, District), if this level is not typed in (district), the program will assume that all the districts in the canton chosen where affected.


The type of event refers to the hazard associated with the disasters in the inventory. Please refer to the Methodological Guide and the User Manuals for precise definitions of these.


If the information of the site is available, it indicates where the event happened. If the site corresponds exactly to the last geographical level of the ones reported, it is not necessary to enter it again. Normally, in this category, the exact location where the event happened is specified, in the municipality or geographical unit defined. It may be a town, a small town, a police post, farm or country estate, a spot, a place, a small village, a geographical feature, a river, etc.

Cause and its description

Many times, in the process of development and generation of an event that ends in a disaster, it is difficult to distinguish between the cause and effect of the same phenomena. As a solution, each inventorying team is able to include notes about the causality relationships of an event under the field (Observation).

Disaster effects

For more information on the effects defined in Desinventar, refer to the Methodological Guide of DesInventar.
Effects over people

This is a group of variables that correspond to the effects over people. For each variable enlisted it follows a text field, where the number or value for each variable has to be indicated. In front of this frame, there is a selection box which shall be marked only when there is knowledge of the existence of cases but their value unknown.

� Dead : Number of dead people
� Missing People: Number of missing people (unconfirmed deaths).
� Injured/Sick: Number of people who required medical attention.
� Affected People: Number of directly and indirectlyaffected people.
� Destroyed Houses: Number of destroyed houses (non habitable dwellings).
� Affected Houses: Number of affected houses (still habitable).
� Evacuated: Number of temporarily evacuated people.
� Relocated: Number of permanently relocated people.

Effects over infrastructure

Effects over civil and services infrastructure. The selection box is marked if there were effects in any of these items.
� Transportation
� Farming and livestock sector
� Communications
� Energy
� Education
� Hospital Centers: indicates the number of hospital centers affected.
� Aid
� Aqueduct
� Sewers
� Industry
� Health
� Others

Value of Losses:
Value of the economic losses caused by the disaster.
� Value of Losses in $: Estimated value of losses in local currency.
� Value of Losses in U$: Estimated value of losses in American dolars.

This is an indicative of the magnitude of the event. For more information on the scales and conventions on magnitudes look for the Section called Methodological Guide to DesInventar.

Other Losses
Short description of other losses caused by the disaster.

Comments and Observations
This is a field that has a capacity of 750 characters, about 200 words.

Other fields:
Date of record creation (which is the date when the record was created) and the identification of the person who creates the record.

Usage of the Query Screen

Events and Causes

Event list
Appears in the query window as a box with a list that has all the defined types of events. If you wish to make a query (or report) with one or more events, they must be selected from this list. If NO type of event is selected, then ALL the types of events will be considered on the enquiry (report). To select an event, CLICK on it. If you want to un-select, click again on the event, or if you want to un-select all the fields, CLICK on New Query. You may select and unselect multiple events with the Control Key

Cause list
Corresponds to a list of the predefined causes in DesInventar. In order to choose a cause you must CLICK on it. To unselect, click on it again. If you wish to choose all, none has to be selected.

Events with specific effects
In order to make a more specific query you can choose some event describers, such as: Victims, Injured, etc. Just CLICK on the white box at the left of each of these. You may also select events which have these effects within a specific range of values using the two text boxes beside each effect.

Events that caused effects
Requests may be restricted according to the interests of the user, to events that might have affected the agricultural and livestock sectors, education, etc.. To do this you must click once over the fields of the box named ?Events that affected?, in the query window.

Remember: If none is selected, then all will be retrieved.

Options and period
Sort order: This field refers to the order in which you wish the descriptive fields (geography, event and cause) to appear in the Results Sheet.

Logic of selection

This is a very useful tool when you want to make combinations of options in different ways. Options can be combined so that the records retrieved respond to ALL criteria (AND) or to ANY criteria (OR). For example in cases when you wish to consult the events where there were houses destroyed and public services affected, you mark both describers and pick the Conjunctive (AND) selection. When you want to get all the events that affected the industry or where there were houses destroyed, pick the Disjunctive selection (OR).

Query Period

As a result of using a similar reasoning to the one used for the lists, employing the period restricts the records that are to be extracted to a range of dates.

If the Date From is not used, the dates will not be restricted, except the resulted ones of the Date To. In this way, if only the From date is used, the extracted records will be those with subsequent dates of the one typed. If only the Until date is used, records with previous dates to the one typed will be extracted. If both dates are provided, the extracted records will be those with dates between the specified period. It is important to notice that if only the year is provided, DesInventar will assume day and month as the first day of the year or month (for Date From) or the last day of the year or month for Date To

Map window

DesConsultar is equipped with functionality to manage very simple maps of the regions under study.

These maps have three purposes:
� That the user may be illustrated on the shape and placement of the different zones that constitute the division used (usually the political and administrative division).
� Serve as a tool for the selection of specific zones from which you wish to obtain information. This application is particularily useful when the user doesn�t have a practical knowledge of the zone under study.
� Serve as an initial matrix for the production of thematical maps. For more information see Thematic Maps.
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