Identifying vulnerable populations in urban society: a case study in a flood-prone district of Wuhan, China

Xu, Jia; Takahashi, Makoto; Li, Weifu

In the context of unprecedented extreme weather and climatic events, the internal structural factors of society play a decisive role in determining the extent to which human beings are affected by disasters and their ability to respond to them. In the past few decades, rapid urbanization in developing countries, such as China, has greatly increased social vulnerability. This process has generated uneven living conditions and created many vulnerable groups, including urban poverty, migrants, and socially and geographically marginalized groups. These groups face difficulties in living conditions, education, livelihood stability, and more.

This study sets up indicators from a micro-perspective: three indicators of exposure, four indicators of sensitivity, and eight indicators of adaptive capacity. Based on this evaluation index system, this study conducted a social vulnerability assessment of the population in Hongshan District, Wuhan, China, through individual questionnaire surveys. inline-formulaK-means cluster analysis was used to determine high, medium, and low levels of social vulnerability, which were used to compare different community types and identify vulnerable groups.

The results showed close interrelationships between different types of communities in terms of physical and built environments as well as varying levels of social vulnerability to disasters. The high-vulnerability group accounted for 12.9 % of the 599 samples, the medium-vulnerability group accounted for 48.4 %, and the low-vulnerability group accounted for 38.7 %. The higher-vulnerability groups exhibited characteristics such as low education, poor health, low annual income, unstable work, and insufficient social security. Quantitative understanding of the degree of dissimilarity in social vulnerability among different communities and populations is significant in reducing social vulnerability and disaster risk specifically and effectively.

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Xu, Jia / Takahashi, Makoto / Li, Weifu: Identifying vulnerable populations in urban society: a case study in a flood-prone district of Wuhan, China. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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