The Asynergies of Structural Disaster Risk Reduction Measures: Comparing Floods and Earthquakes

Marleen de Ruiter, Jens de Bruijn, Johanna Englhardt, James E. Daniell, Hans de Moel, Philip Ward

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Traditionally, building-level disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures are aimed at a single natural hazard. However, in many countries the society faces the threat of multiple hazards. Building-level DRR measures that aim to decrease earthquake vulnerability can have opposing or conflicting effects on flood vulnerability, and vice versa. In a case study of Afghanistan, we calculate the risk of floods and earthquakes, in terms of average annual losses (AAL), in the current situation. Next, we develop two DRR scenarios, where building-level measures to reduce flood and earthquake risk are implemented. We use this to identify districts for which DRR measures of one hazard increase the risk of another hazard. We then also calculate the optimal situation between the two scenarios by, for each district, selecting the DRR scenario for which the AAL as a ratio of the total exposure is lowest. Finally, we assess the sensitivity of the total risk to each scenario. The optimal measure differs spatially throughout Afghanistan, but in most districts it is more beneficial to take flood DRR measures. However, in the districts where it is more beneficial to take earthquake measures, the reduction in risk is considerable (up to 40%, while flood DRR measures lead to a reduction in risk by 16% in individual districts). The introduction of asynergies between DRR measures in risk analyses allows policy-makers to spatially differentiate building codes and other building-level DRR measures to address the most prevalent risk while not compromising the risk resulting from other hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020EF001531
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number1
Early online date6 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


The authors would like to thank Dr. Faith Taylor and one anonymous reviewer for their very valuable feedback. This work has been funded by a VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) (016.161.324) and a VICI grant from the NWO (453‐13‐006). The authors would like to thank the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the development of the Disaster Risk Afghanistan Geonode.

FundersFunder number
World Bank Group
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek453‐13‐006, 016.161.324


    • asynergies
    • building back better
    • DRR Measures
    • multi-hazard risk assessment
    • sustainable development


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