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