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An Analysis of Social Vulnerability to Flood Disaster in Estonia

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An Analysis of Social Vulnerability to Flood Disaster in Estonia

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Samenvatting

Estonia is a small country on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Although disastrous floods are rare in the country, a few storms have caused devastating consequences for Estonia. The effects of climate change may bring more extreme weather conditions in the future and thus effective mitigation and preparedness can significantly reduce the impact of a next flood event. An index of social vulnerability has proven to be a useful tool for identifying most vulnerable groups of the society, and it can guide disaster management to areas most in need. Therefore, a first attempt to study social vulnerability was carried out in Estonia.
The assessment of social vulnerability in Estonia was made possible by recent advancements of the United States Social Vulnerability Index that provide guidelines for studying vulnerability in Europe. Furthermore, the conceptual, technical and geographical accommodation proposed by Holand and Lujala in 2013 help to adapt an index of social vulnerability to Estonia. This is essential, because a variable that indicates vulnerability in one region can lack relevance in another.
First, the current situation in flood risk management in Estonia was studied. The importance of effective flood risk management became clear in the flood of 2005 when disaster response by agencies in charge was insufficient. In 2012, the Ministry of the Environment started structural flood risk management with the enforcement of the European Floods Directive.
Adaptation process of a social vulnerability index was carried out with the help of professionals. While many concepts of vulnerability in Estonia are comparable to earlier studies, major differences are rooted in the long Russian occupation and the short history of independence. For the analysis, municipality level was declared most suitable. Data collection through various databases resulted in a set of 50 indicators appropriate for statistical examination. The statistical analysis was not carried out as part of this thesis, but the methods of the original Social Vulnerability Index are advised for the analysis in Estonia due to their acceptance in the scientific world. Once the results of the assessment have been mapped and validated, the index can be used in disaster risk management. In Estonia, the index of social vulnerability can help to prioritize measures for risk reduction and determine inhabitants’ and municipalities’ financial capacity for the implementation of measures. Furthermore, the index is recommended for the Ministry of the Interior to assess social vulnerability to wider range of disasters.
All in all, the social vulnerability assessment in Estonia proved that the concept and its aggregated index can be very beneficial for many institutions in the country. Assessing physical and social risk together will contribute to improving flood risk management, and consequently, more effective preparedness, response and recovery has the potential to reduce the disastrous outcome of a next flood event. Moreover, since the application of an index of social vulnerability on policy level has not been much addressed in the past, the study provides useful insights for other countries dealing with Flood Risk Management under the EU Floods Directive.

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OrganisatieHZ University of Applied Sciences
OpleidingWatermanagement/ Deltamanagement
InstituutDelta Academy
PartnersEstonian Ministry of the Environment
Gepubliceerd in
Datum2015-06-26
TypeBachelorscriptie
TaalEngels

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