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New research:Flood strategies could be improved with help of socio-demographic data

New research suggests flood management could be improved by including socio-demographic information in the assessment of flood risk. The research combined traditional flood risk assessment with information on the ‘social vulnerability’ of people living in flood risk areas. The proposed methodology was applied to Rotterdam, NL.

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New research suggests that flood management could be improved by including socio-demographic information in the assessment of flood risk. The research combined traditional flood risk assessment with information on the 'social vulnerability' of people living in flood risk areas. The results show that there are almost twice as many people of high social vulnerability (e.g. low-income or elderly) in flood risk areas of Rotterdam as low social vulnerability people.

 

In this study, traditional flood risk assessment methods were combined with an assessment of social vulnerability. ‘Social vulnerability’ is a measure of the ability of people or social groups to withstand adverse events, such as natural disasters. People such as the elderly, unemployed and those with a low income are typically more socially vulnerable as they may have a lower ability or fewer resources to cope with disasters. As such, the social characteristics of households in areas exposed to flooding can be considered important to the feasibility of flood risk management policies. However, they are not usually considered in traditional flood risk assessment.

 

The researchers assessed flood risk using socio-demographic information from Rotterdam in the Netherlands as a case study. They used freely available socio-demographic data from the Dutch Central Bureau for statistics, based on a postcode system. This information was then combined with data on the geographic co-ordinates of the postcodes, allowing them to be combined with information of flood hazard zones

 

Source: Koks, E.E., Jongman, B., Husby, T.G., Botzen, W.J.W. (2014). Combining hazard, exposure and social vulnerability to provide lessons for flood risk management. Environmental Science and Policy 47: 42–52. DOI:10.1016/j.envsci.2014 .10.013.

 

This research is well in line with RISC-KIT's approach for the importance of the incorporation of social indicators in the assessment of coastal flood risk, highlighting the importance of data combination and interpretation. 

 

For more information download the article from Science for Environment Policy in .pdf here.

 

 

 

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