Flood risk assessment for informal settlements

R. de Risi*, F. Jalayer, F. de Paola, I. Iervolino, M. Giugni, M. E. Topa, E. Mbuya, A. Kyessi, G. Manfredi, P. Gasparini

*Corresponding author for this work

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

96 Citations (Scopus)


The urban informal settlements are particularly vulnerable to flooding events, due to both their generally poor quality of construction and high population density. An integrated approach to the analysis of flooding risk of informal settlements should take into account, and propagate, the many sources of uncertainty affecting the problem, ranging from the characterization of rainfall curve and flooding hazard to the characterization of the vulnerability of the portfolio of buildings. This paper proposes a probabilistic and modular approach for calculating the flooding risk in terms of the mean annual frequency of exceeding a specific limit state for each building within the informal settlement and the expected number of people affected (if the area is not evacuated). The flooding risk in this approach is calculated by the convolution of flooding hazard and flooding fragility for a specified limit state for each structure within the portfolio of buildings. This is achieved by employing the flooding height as an intermediate variable bridging over the fragility and hazard calculations. The focus of this paper is on an ultimate limit state where the life of slum dwellers is endangered by flooding. The fragility is calculated by using a logic tree procedure where several possible combinations of building features/construction details, and their eventual outcome in terms of the necessity to perform structural analysis or the application of nominal threshold flood heights, are taken into account. The logic tree branch probabilities are characterized based on both the orthophoto recognition and the sample in situ building survey. The application of the methodology is presented for Suna, a sub-ward of Dar es Salaam City (Tanzania) in the Msimbazi River basin having a high concentration of informal settlements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1032
Number of pages30
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2013


  • Africa
  • Climate-related hazard
  • Extreme meteorological events
  • Flood
  • Fragility
  • Informal settlements


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