Social Vulnerability Indicators for Flooding in Aotearoa New Zealand

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 9;18(8):3952. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18083952.


Social vulnerability indicators are a valuable tool for understanding which population groups are more vulnerable to experiencing negative impacts from disasters, and where these groups live, to inform disaster risk management activities. While many approaches have been used to measure social vulnerability to natural hazards, there is no single method or universally agreed approach. This paper proposes a novel approach to developing social vulnerability indicators, using the example of flooding in Aotearoa New Zealand. A conceptual framework was developed to guide selection of the social vulnerability indicators, based on previous frameworks (including the MOVE framework), consideration of climate change, and a holistic view of health and wellbeing. Using this framework, ten dimensions relating to social vulnerability were identified: exposure; children; older adults; health and disability status; money to cope with crises/losses; social connectedness; knowledge, skills and awareness of natural hazards; safe, secure and healthy housing; food and water to cope with shortage; and decision making and participation. For each dimension, key indicators were identified and implemented, mostly using national Census population data. After development, the indicators were assessed by end users using a case study of Porirua City, New Zealand, then implemented for the whole of New Zealand. These indicators will provide useful data about social vulnerability to floods in New Zealand, and these methods could potentially be adapted for other jurisdictions and other natural hazards, including those relating to climate change.

Keywords: disaster; flooding; health; indicators; natural hazards; resilience; social vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Climate Change
  • Disasters*
  • Floods*
  • Humans
  • New Zealand