Filling the Disaster Data Gap: Lessons from Cataloging Singapore’s Past Disasters

TitleFilling the Disaster Data Gap: Lessons from Cataloging Singapore’s Past Disasters
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsLin YC, Khan F, Jenkins SF, Lallemant D
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Science
Date Published02/2021

International disaster databases and catalogs provide a baseline for researchers, governments, communities, and organizations to understand the risk of a particular place, analyze broader trends in disaster risk, and justify investments in mitigation. Perhaps because Singapore is routinely identified as one of the safest countries in the world, Singapore’s past disasters have not been studied extensively with few events captured in major global databases such as EM-DAT. In this article, we fill the disaster data gap for postwar Singapore (1950–2020) using specified metrics through an archival search, review of literature, and analysis of secondary sources. We present four key lessons from cataloging these events. First, we expand Singapore’s disaster catalog to 39 events in this time period and quantify the extent of this data gap. Second, we identify the mitigating actions that have followed past events that contribute to Singapore’s present-day safety. Third, we discuss how these past events uncover continuities among vulnerability bearers in Singapore. Last, we identify limitations of a disaster catalog when considering future risks. In expanding the disaster catalog, this case study of Singapore supports the need for comprehensive understanding of past disasters in order to examine current and future disaster resilience.