Articles | Volume 16, issue 5
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1123–1134, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-1123-2016
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1123–1134, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-1123-2016

Research article 13 May 2016

Research article | 13 May 2016

Social vulnerability of rural households to flood hazards in western mountainous regions of Henan province, China

Delin Liu1 and Yue Li2 Delin Liu and Yue Li
  • 1Safety and Emergency Management Research Center, Henan Polytechnic University, Jiaozuo 454000, China
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA

Abstract. Evaluating social vulnerability is a crucial issue in risk and disaster management. In this study, a household social vulnerability index (HSVI) to flood hazards was developed and used to assess the social vulnerability of rural households in western mountainous regions of Henan province, China. Eight key indicators were identified using existing literature and discussions with experts from multiple disciplines and local farmers, and their weights were determined using principle component analysis (PCA) and an expert scoring method. The results showed that (1) the ratio of perennial work in other places, hazard-related training and illiteracy ratio (15+) were the most dominant factors of social vulnerability. (2) The numbers of high, moderate and low vulnerability households were 14, 64 and 16, respectively, which accounted for 14.9, 68.1 and 17.0 % of the total interviewed rural households, respectively. (3) The correlation coefficient between household social vulnerability scores and casualties in a storm flood in July 2010 was significant at 0.05 significance level (r  =  0.748), which indicated that the selected indicators and their weights were valid. (4) Some mitigation strategies to reduce household social vulnerability to flood hazards were proposed, which included (1) improving the local residents' income and their disaster-related knowledge and evacuation skills, (2) developing emergency plans and carrying out emergency drills and training, (3) enhancing the accuracy of disaster monitoring and warning systems and (4) establishing a specific emergency management department and comprehensive rescue systems. These results can provide useful information for rural households and local governments to prepare, mitigate and respond to flood hazards, and the corresponding strategies can help local households to reduce their social vulnerability and improve their ability to resist flood hazard.

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Evaluating social vulnerability is a crucial issue in risk and disaster management. A household social vulnerability index for flood hazards was developed and used to assess the social vulnerability of rural households in a mountainous region. Some mitigation strategies to reduce social vulnerability to flood hazards were proposed based on the assessment results. The results provide useful information for households and local governments to prepare, mitigate and respond to flood hazards.
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