The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) was established in 1973 as a non-profit institution, with international status under the Belgian Law. It is located within the School of Public Health of the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Brussels. CRED became a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in 1980 and has expanded its support of the WHO Global Programme for Emergency Preparedness and Response. Since then, it has increased its international network substantially. It has collaborative status with the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-DHA), and also works in collaboration with the European Union Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA-USAID) as well as with non-governmental agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Croissant (ICRCRC, Switzerland). During the 1990's, the Centre actively promoted the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR).
CRED enjoys an autonomy and flexibility that allows it to respond rapidly to situations and adapt its activities according to the developing needs of its field. It maintains close links with the student and post-graduate community and profits from the facilities provided by an academic environment. Its location in Brussels allows active links with different European Commission programmes. The Centre also has several projects with various other European institutions.
Although the field of its activities spreads mainly over Southeast Asia, the Far East, and East Africa, the Centre welcomes research fellows and trainees for varying periods from all over the world. It organises formal courses and workshops both in Brussels and elsewhere. The staff of the Centre is multi-disciplinary and represents different disciplines such as medical and public health fields (epidemiology, planning, environment, bio-statistics), database management, medical anthropology, nutritional sciences and documentation. Other fields are also represented such as mass communication and geography. The working languages of the staff are French and English.
One of the main strengths of the Centre is team members who identify closely with their professional tasks. This is due in part to the team's small size in which everyone participates in decision-making. In addition, the Centre's relations with a network of academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and international agencies are a major asset in its activities. CRED's activities cover applied research, the development of management tools, logistics and training.