Combining hazard, exposure and social vulnerability to provide lessons for flood risk management

E.E. Koks, B. Jongman, T.G. Husby, W.J.W. Botzen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Flood risk assessments provide inputs for the evaluation of flood risk management (FRM) strategies. Traditionally, such risk assessments provide estimates of loss of life and economic damage. However, the effect of policy measures aimed at reducing risk also depends on the capacity of households to adapt and respond to floods, which in turn largely depends on their social vulnerability. This study shows how a joint assessment of hazard, exposure and social vulnerability provides valuable information for the evaluation of FRM strategies. The adopted methodology uses data on hazard and exposure combined with a social vulnerability index. The relevance of this state-of-the-art approach taken is exemplified in a case-study of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The results show that not only a substantial share of the population can be defined as socially vulnerable, but also that the population is very heterogeneous, which is often ignored in traditional flood risk management studies. It is concluded that FRM measures, such as individual mitigation, evacuation or flood insurance coverage should not be applied homogenously across large areas, but instead should be tailored to local characteristics based on the socioeconomic characteristics of individual households and neighborhoods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-52
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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