Articles | Volume 10, issue 7
16 Jul 2010
 | 16 Jul 2010

The efficiency of a risk reduction program for debris-flow disasters – a case study of the Songhe community in Taiwan

S. C. Chen, C. Y. Wu, and B. T. Huang

Abstract. A risk reduction program was developed after debris-flow disaster analysis is conducted using mitigation structures, evacuation measures and community restrained expansion strategy. The risk assessment method delineates hazard zones and analyzes vulnerability and the resilient capacity of an affected area, allowing the prediction of losses of properties and lives, and the corresponding risk. It can also be used to evaluate performance of a risk reduction program. The proposed method was applied to the Songhe community as a case study to assess debris-flow risk and performance of reduction programs consisting of mitigation structures, evacuation measures and a restrained expansion strategy. Total annual risk decreased to $0.01 million from $0.72 million for the No. 1 Torrent and to $0.36 million from $1.22 million for the No. 2 Torrent after mitigation structures were installed, and evacuation measures were implemented based on restrained expansion. Although mitigation structures are costly, they can reduce the size of hazard zones. Delimitating the Designated Soil and Water Conservation Area restrains community expansion and decreases possible losses. Although evacuation measures cannot reduce the size of hazard zones, they effectively increase the resilient capacity of residents. The benefit-cost ratio for mitigation structures exceeds 1.0 for both torrents with an average of 3.87; the benefit-cost ratio for evacuation measures is markedly greater than 1.0. Combining mitigation structures and evacuation measures increases the total benefit with a benefit-cost ratio of 4.38. Analytical results showed that the risk reduction program is cost-effective.