Delineation of flooding risk hotspots based on digital elevation model, calculated and historical flooding extents: the case of Ouagadougou

Raffaele de Risi*, Fatemeh Jalayer, Francesco de Paola, Sarah Lindley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
285 Downloads (Pure)


Delineation of flood risk hotspots can be considered as one of the first steps in an integrated methodology for urban flood risk management and mitigation. This paper presents a step-by-step methodology in a GIS-based framework for identifying flooding risk hotspots for residential buildings. This is done by overlaying a map of potentially flood-prone areas [estimated through the topographic wetness index (TWI)], a map of residential areas [extracted from a city-wide assessment of urban morphology types (UMT)], and a geo-spatial census dataset. The novelty of this paper consists in the fact that the flood-prone areas (the TWI thresholds) are identified through a maximum likelihood method (MLE) based both on inundation profiles calculated for a specific return period (TR), and on information about the extent of historical flooding in the area of interest. Furthermore, Bayesian parameter updating is employed in order to estimate the TWI threshold by employing the historical extent as prior information and the inundation map for calculating the likelihood function. For different statistics of the TWI threshold, the map of potentially flood-prone areas is overlaid with the map of residential urban morphology units in order to delineate the residential flooding risk urban hotspots. Overlaying the delineated urban hotspots with geo-spatial census datasets, the number of people affected by flooding is estimated. These kind of screening procedures are particularly useful for locations where there is a lack of detailed data or where it is difficult to perform accurate flood risk assessment. In fact, an application of the proposed procedure is demonstrated for the identification of urban flooding risk hotspots in the city of Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, a city for which the observed spatial extent of a major flood event in 2009 and a calculated inundation map for a return period of 300 years are both available.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalStochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment
Early online date29 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2017


  • Africa
  • Bayesian parameter estimation
  • Exposure
  • Flood-prone areas
  • GIS
  • Topographic wetness index
  • Urban morphology types

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