JDR Vol.12 No.2 pp. 355-367
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2017.p0355


Global Water-Related Risk Indicators: Meta-Analysis of Indicator Requirements

Karina Vink*,†, Md. Nasif Ahsan**, Hisaya Sawano*, and Miho Ohara*

*International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM)
1-6 Minamihara, 305-8516 Tsukuba, Japan

Corresponding author

**Economics Discipline, Khulna University, Bangladesh

June 16, 2016
February 2, 2017
Online released:
March 16, 2017
March 20, 2017
disaster risk reduction indicators, flood, resilience, pedigree matrix
Despite a long developmental history of water-related disaster risk indicators, there is still no consensus or reliable system for selecting objective data, no methodological system for choosing and verifying the relevancy of water-related disaster risk indicators, and no linking results back to root causes or addressing possible impacts on policies or actors to instigate change. Global policy documents such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015–2013 [1] emphasize the urgent need for indicators capable of measuring risk reduction. However, developing and determining risk indicators faces many issues. Most disaster risk indices published do not yet include a basic overview of what data was used and how it was collected, let alone provide a systematic explanation of why each indicator was included, and why others were not. This consequently complicates linking the findings to their potential policy impacts. It also complicates the providing of clear-cut recommendations for improving resilience, which is a common intent of disaster risk indices. This study, which focuses on water-related hazards, aims to provide disaster managers with a set of criteria for evaluating existing datasets used in disaster risk indices, index construction methods, and the links back to policy impacts. So far, there has been no comprehensive overview of indicator requirements or scoring systems. Previous studies concerning indicator evaluating metrics [2] have fewer metrics and have not yet addressed the different tiers of requirements, namely objective indicator data quality, methodological/epistemological aspects of index composition, and, most importantly, policy and actors of change (impact requirements). Further testing of these metrics in local studies can lead to the greatly needed scientific justification for indicator selection and can enhance index robustness. The results aid in developing an evaluation system to address issues of data availability and the comparability of commonly used indicator sources, such as the World Bank. Once indicators can be scientifically linked to impacts through policy devices, national governments or other actors can become more likely to claim ownership of the data management of indicators. Future studies should expand this evaluation system to other natural hazards and focus on investigating the links between indicators and DRR in order to further validate indicator selection robustly.
Cite this article as:
K. Vink, M. Ahsan, H. Sawano, and M. Ohara, “Global Water-Related Risk Indicators: Meta-Analysis of Indicator Requirements,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.12 No.2, pp. 355-367, 2017.
Data files:
  1. [1] United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030,” Switzerland, 2015, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  2. [2] M. Gall, “Indices of social vulnerability to natural hazards: a comparative evaluation,” Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, USA, 2007.
  3. [3] United Nations, “Sustainable Development Goals,” 2016, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  4. [4] N. W. Adger, “Vulnerability,” Global Environmental Change, Vol.16, No.3, pp. 268-281, 2006.
  5. [5] H. Eakin and A. L. Luers, “Assessing the vulnerability of social-environmental systems,” Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol.31, pp. 365-394, 2006, DOI: 10.1146/
  6. [6] C. J. Andrews, D. M. Hassenzahl and B. B. Johnson, “Accommodating uncertainty in comparative risk,” Risk Analysis, Vol.24, No.5, pp. 1323-1335, 2004.
  7. [7] G. Kaveckis and B. Bechtel, “Land use based urban vulnerability to climate change assessment,” 9th International Conference Environmental Engineering – Selected Papers, 2014.
  8. [8] B. Beccari, “A Comparative Analysis of Disaster Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience Composite Indicators,” PLoS Currents Disasters, Vol.1, 2016.
  9. [9] M. S. Babel, “Developing an operational water security index, and its application in selected diverse regions of Asia,” Water Engineering and Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, 2013, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  10. [10] M. S. Babel, A. Onsomkri, and V. R. Shinde, “A framework for water security assessment at city scale,” the 7th International Conference on Water Resources and Environment Research, Kyoto, Japan, 2016.
  11. [11] United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), “World Risk Report 2014,” 2014, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  12. [12] “Global Adaptation Index (GAIN),” [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  13. [13] S. Lonergan, K. Gustavson, and B. Carter, “The Index of Human Insecurity,” AVISO, Vol.6, 2000.
  14. [14] W. Naudé, M. McGillivray, and S. Rossouw, “A local vulnerability index for South Africa,” United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), North-West University South Africa, 2007.
  15. [15] S. F. Balica, N. G. Wright, and F. van der Meulen, “A flood vulnerability index for coastal cities and its use in assessing climate change impacts,” Nat Hazards, Vol.64, No.1, pp. 73-105, 2012, DOI: 10.1007/s11069-012-0234-1.
  16. [16] “Water-Related Disaster Resilience Index,” in Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) 2013, Asian development bank, 2013, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  17. [17] J. Birkmann, “Indicators and criteria for measuring vulnerability: theoretical bases and requirements,” in J. Birkmann (Eds.), Measuring Vulnerability to Natural Hazards, Hong Kong: United Nations University Press, pp. 55-77, 2006.
  18. [18] T. Welle and J. Birkmann, “The World Risk Index – An approach to assess risk and vulnerability on a global scale,” Journal of Extreme Events, Vol.2, No.1, p. 34, 2015, DOI: 10.1142/S2345737615500037.
  19. [19] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), “Reducing disaster risk, a challenge for development,” Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, John S. Swift Co., USA, 2004, ISBN 92-1-126160-0, [accessed Oct. 17, 2016]
  20. [20] T. Winderl, “Disaster resilience measurements, stocktaking of ongoing efforts in developing systems for measuring resilience,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2014.
  21. [21] UNISDR PreventionWeb, “Open-ended Intergovernmental Expert Working Group on Indicators and Terminology Relating to Disaster Risk Reduction,” [accessed Oct. 17, 2016]
  22. [22] V. A. Johnson, K. R. Ronan, D. M. Johnston, and R. Peace, “Evaluations of disaster education programs for children: a methodological review,” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Vol.9, pp. 107-123, 2014, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2014.04.001.
  23. [23] K. Vink, Md. N. Ahsan, and H. Sawano, “The benefits of cyclones as ecosystem services,” the 7th International Conference on Water Resources and Environment Research, Kyoto, Japan, 2016.
  24. [24] Md. N. Ahsan, K. Takeuchi, K. Vink, and M. Ohara, “A systematic review of the factors affecting the cyclone evacuation decision process in Bangladesh,” Journal of Disaster Research, Vol.11, No.4, pp. 742-753, 2016, DOI: 10.20965/jdr.2016.p0742.
  25. [25] UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, “World Population Prospects, the 2015 Revision,” [accessed Oct. 17, 2016]
  26. [26] K. K. Goldewijk and N. Ramankutty, “Land Use Changes During the Past 300 Years,” EOLSS Publishers Co., Land Use, Land Cover and Soil Sciences, Vol.1, 2009.
  27. [27] B. Schultz, “Flood management under rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in flood-prone areas: a need for serious consideration,” Irrig. and Drain., Vol.55, S3-S8, 2006, DOI: 10.1002/ird.237.
  28. [28] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation,” Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, 2012, [accessed Oct. 17, 2016]
  29. [29] Inter-Agency Standing Committee, European Commission, “INFORM Index for Risk Management,” [accessed Oct. 17, 2016]
  30. [30] The World Bank, “Open data initiative,” [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  31. [31] L. Pintér, L. Bizikova, K. Kutics, and A. Vári, “Developing a system of sustainability indicators for the lake Balaton region,” Tájökológiai Lapok, Vol.6, No.3, pp. 271-293, 2008.
  32. [32] J. Birkmann, O. D. Cardona, M. L. Carreño, A. H. Barbat, M. Pelling, S. Schneiderbauer, S. Kienberger, M. Keiler, D. Alexander, P. Zeil, and T. Welle, “Framing vulnerability, risk and societal responses: the MOVE framework,” Nat Hazards, Vol.67, No.2, pp. 193-211, 2013.
  33. [33] A. Dwyer, C. Zoppou, O. Nielsen, S. Day, and S. Roberts, “Quantifying social vulnerability: a methodology for identifying those at risk to natural hazards,” Australian Government, Geoscience Australia Record, 2004.
  34. [34] S. Lee, T. Okazumi, Y. Kwak, and K. Takeuchi, “Vulnerability proxy selection and risk calculation formula for global flood risk assessment: a preliminary study,” Water Policy, Vol.17, No.1, pp. 8-25, 2015, DOI: 10.2166/wp.2014.158.
  35. [35] R. Davidson, “An urban earthquake disaster risk index,” PhD thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, Stanford University, USA, California, USA, 1997.
  36. [36] E. Krumpe, “Monitoring Human Impacts: Criteria to Guide Selection of indicators,” College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho, USA, 2000, css496/Criteria_to_select_indicators.doc [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  37. [37] I. Abarquez and Z. Murshed, “Community-based disaster risk management, field practitioners’ handbook,” Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), 2004.
  38. [38] United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (UNOCHA), “Human rights indicators,” United Nations, 2012, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  39. [39] Save the children, “SMART indicators,” 2009, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  40. [40] A. K. M. I. Nazrul, U. K. Deb, M. Al Amin, N. Jahan, I. Ahmed, S. Tabassum, M. G. Ahamad, A. Nabi, N. P. Singh, K. Byjesh, and C. Bantilan, “Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation Strategies and Layers of Resilience, Quantifying Vulnerability to Climate Change in Bangladesh,” International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Research report No.16, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2013, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  41. [41] T. Merabtene, J. Yoshitani, and D. Kuribayashi, “Managing flood and water-related risks: a challenge for the future,” AOGS 2004 Joint 1st Annual Meeting & 2nd APHW Conference, Singapore, 2004.
  42. [42] P. Hardi and T. Zdan, “Assessing Sustainable Development: Principles in Practice,” International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Winnipeg, 1997, [accessed Jun. 6, 2016]
  43. [43] D. King and C. MacGregor, “Using social indicators to measure community vulnerability to natural hazards,” Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol.15, No.3, pp. 52-57, 2000.
  44. [44] S. Lee, T. Okazumi, and Y. Kwak, “Possibilities and challenges in the development of a global flood disaster risk indicator from the post-2015 UN processes perspective: a preliminary study,” Water Policy, Vol.17, No.2, pp. 208-227, 2015, DOI: 10.2166/wp.2014.078.
  45. [45] W. N. Adger, N. Brooks, G. Bentham, M. Agnew, and S. Eriksen, “New indicators of vulnerability and adaptive capacity,” Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, 2004.
  46. [46] U. L. Kaly, C. R. Pratt, and J. Mitchell, “The demonstration Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI), South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC),” Technical Report 384, 2004.
  47. [47] Y. Adikari, R. Osti, and K. Hiroki, “Governance, socio-economic and geophysical indices for determining water-related disaster risk,” Water Policy, Vol.15, No.2, pp. 179-192, 2013, DOI: 10.2166/wp.2012.170.
  48. [48] M. Nair, N. H. Ravindranath, N. Sharma, R. Kattumuri, and M. Munshi, “Poverty index as a tool for adaptation intervention to climate change in northeast India,” Climate and Development, Vol.5, No.1, pp. 14-32, 2013, DOI:10.1080/17565529.2012.751337.
  49. [49] T. Okazumi, S. Lee, Y. Kwak, G. Maksym, D. Kuribayashi, N. Yasuda, and H. Sawano, “Global water-related disaster risk indicators assessing real phenomena of flood disasters,” Global Assessment Report (GAR) input paper, 2014.
  50. [50] E. M. Andrews and S. B. Withey, “Social indicators of well being,” Plenum Press, New York, USA, 1976.
  51. [51] C. W. Cobb and C. Rixford, “Lessons learned from the history of social indicators,” Redefining progress, San Francisco, USA, 1998.
  52. [52] Global Water-related Disaster Risk Indicators Development Team, “Proposal of Asian water development outlook 2016,” International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), 2014.
  53. [53] G. Rasul and G. B. Thapa, “Sustainability of ecological and conventional agricultural systems in Bangladesh: an assessment based on environmental, economic and social perspectives,” Agricultural Systems, Vol.79, pp. 327-351, 2004, DOI: 10.1016/S0308-521X(03)00090-8.
  54. [54] International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), “ICHARM’s role in the World Water Assessment Programme,” WWAP, 2013.
  55. [55] A. Terakawa, J. Yoshitani, T. Ikeda, D. Kuribayashi and T. Merabtene, “Sustainable development and emerging research programs in flood hazard mitigation and risk management,” Public Works Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan, 2006.
  56. [56] R. K. Singh, H. R. Murty, S. K. Gupta, and A. K. Dikshit, “An overview of sustainability assessment methodologies,” Ecological Indicators, Vol.9, No.2, pp. 189-212, 2009, DOI:

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera.

Last updated on May. 19, 2024