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Adapting Social Impact Assessment to Flood Risk Management

Aznar-Crespo P, Aledo A, Melgarejo-Moreno J, Vallejos-Romero
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3410;


In the context of climate change, a significant increase in flood risk is expected, which may lead to an intensification of the social impacts of disasters. Social impacts significantly affect the recovery processes of individuals, social groups, and institutions in the medium and long term. Hence, the management of such impacts throughout the disaster life cycle is essential. International institutions and frameworks for disaster risk reduction have claimed the need to generate tools for the systematic assessment and management of the social impacts of floods.

Recently, an innovative line of research has emerged aimed at adapting social impact assessment (SIA), usually directed at the evaluation of planned interventions (programs, plans and projects), to the field of environmental disasters. In order to contribute to academic efforts in this emerging field, this paper puts forward, through a systematic literature review based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) criteria, an SIA methodological proposal for the identification, assessment and systematic management of the social impacts of flood events.

This methodological proposal covers the three phases of the disaster cycle: (1) pre-event (preparedness), allowing the anticipation of potential impacts and supporting the proposal of preventive measures; (2) event (response), facilitating a strategic mobilization of resources and technical support towards previously identified critical disaster areas; and (3) post-event (recovery), evaluating the evolutionary dynamics of impacts, proposing measures to avoid their socio-territorial embedding and accelerating recovery processes. This tool is designed for strategic use by policymakers and managers responsible for flood risk management and regional development.

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