Social Indicators of Vulnerability to Floods: An Empirical Case Study in Two Upper Tisza Flood Basins

  • Anna VáriEmail author
  • Zoltan Ferencz
  • Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 32)


This chapter aims to develop indicators of social vulnerability related to flood impacts on the regional level. Impacts are seen here as a function of the exposure as well as the vulnerability dimensions. Because key vulnerability factors include several variables that cannot be found in statistical databases, such as preparedness to the hazard, mental coping capacity, social relations, and trust, an approach based on questionnaire surveys instead of only using statistical data from institutions was chosen. The analysis is based on an empirical survey conducted in the Bodrogköz area and in the Bereg region within the Tisza flood basins. We found that while the most important variables influencing impacts were the exposure level and the geographic location, the most important factors of vulnerability were found to be the following: health, education, savings, opportunities of taking loans, trust in the members of the community and in institutions, and perception of preparedness of institutions against floods. Based on the results we give some policy recommendations with regard to increasing the resilience of the exposed communities. These include: increasing public spending on education, strengthening social cohesion, introducing contingency loans so that borrowing is feasible also for the poorer communities and improving flood preparedness by providing relevant information for inhabitants.


Vulnerability to floods Empirical survey Case study Upper Tisza river basin 


  1. Alcamo J, Moreno JM, Nováky B, Bindi M, Corobov R, Devoy RJN et al (2007) Europe. Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 541–580Google Scholar
  2. Cutter SL (2005) The geography of social vulnerability: race, class, and catastrophe, in Social science research council, Understanding Katrina: perspectives from the social sciences. Accessed 01 Jan 2010
  3. Fukuyama F (1996) Trust: the social virtues and the creation of prosperity. The Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Glatron S, Beck E (2008) Evaluation of socio-spatial vulnerability of city dwellers and analysis of risk perception: industrial and seismic risks in Mulhouse. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci 8:1029–1040CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. IPCC (2007) Fourth assessment report: climate change (AR4)Google Scholar
  6. Kohler A, Jülich S, Bloemertz L (2004) Guidelines. Risk analysis – a basis for disaster risk management. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, EschbornGoogle Scholar
  7. Linnerooth-Bayer J, Mechler R, Pflug G (2005) Refocusing disaster aid. Science 309(5737):1044–1046CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Newton K (2001) Trust, social capital, civic society and democracy. Int Pol Sci Rev 22(2):201–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof J, van der Linden P, Hanson C (eds) (2007) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Putnam RD (1993) Making democracy work: civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  11. Turner MG, Collins S, Lugo A et al (2003) Long-term ecological research on disturbance and ecological response. Bioscience 53:46–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. UNISDR (2003) Terminology on disaster risk reduction. Accessed 01 Jan 2010
  13. UNU-EHS United Nations University Institute for Environmental and Human Security (2005) Vulnerability assessment in the context of disaster-risk, a conceptual and methodological review. United Nations University, BonnGoogle Scholar
  14. Utasi A (ed) (2006) Resources of subjective quality-of-life: security and relationships. HAS Institute of Political Sciences, Budapest (in Hungarian)Google Scholar
  15. Vári A, Ferencz Z (2006) Flood research from a social perspective: the case of the Tisza river in Hungary. In: Tchigurinskaia I, Ni Ni Thein K, Hubert P (eds) Frontiers in flood research, IAHS publication 305. IAHS Press, Wallingford, pp 155–172Google Scholar
  16. Walker B, Carpenter S, Anderes J, Abel N, Cumming G, Jansen M et al (2002) Resilience management in social-ecological systems: a working hypothesis for a participatory A. Conserv Ecol 6(1):14Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Vári
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zoltan Ferencz
    • 1
  • Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of SociologyHungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary
  2. 2.International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)LaxenburgAustria

Personalised recommendations