15th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference location:Utrecht date:5 - 8 July 2009
Flood risks are expected to increase in North-western European countries, due to (among others) climate change. Acknowledging that full avoidance of floods is difficult to reach; current flood risk management is directed to give ‘space to the river’ while reducing the probability of harmful flooding and the consequences of flooding, like tangible (e.g. material losses) and intangible impacts (e.g. non-material losses). The focus of this paper is on intangible impacts. Empirical research has demonstrated that some population groups are more vulnerable towards intangible flood impacts than others, like elderly, ill people, immigrants, single parents, financially deprived people and people living in one-storey houses (Tapsell and Tunstall 2001; Werrity et al. 2007; DEFRA/EA 2003; Cutter et al. 2003; Morrow 1999; Trush et al. 2005). Localization of these people is a prerequisite to develop policy that aims to reduce the intangible impacts. In this paper, the Belgian social flood vulnerability index is developed and applied to five flood prone areas in Flanders. This index enables relative comparison in space and time. Geographical comparison identifies socially vulnerable areas and is carried out at the level of the river catchments (macro), at the level of the municipalities (meso) and at the level of the districts (micro). The change of social flood vulnerability over time is analyzed by the periodic comparison. Linear regression is used to understand the driving forces of current social flood vulnerability and social flood vulnerability change over time.