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Social Vulnerability to Natural Hazards in Urban Systems. An Application in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)

Institute for Research on Innovation and Services for Development, National Research Council, via Guglielmo Sanfelice 8, 80134 Napoli, Italy
Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft, 2628 BL Delft, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2043;
Received: 25 September 2017 / Revised: 30 October 2017 / Accepted: 31 October 2017 / Published: 7 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in an Urbanizing World: The Role of People)
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The concept of risk has become increasingly complex, and has been used not only in relation to the natural features of a region, but also to its socio-economic context. In this conceptualization, the latter directly influences the capacity of a community to cope with, recover from, and adapt to natural hazards. Conceiving vulnerability as a measure of a socio-ecological system’s resilience, and at the same time, as a multidimensional variable that changes in space and time, makes the study of the different ways in which natural hazards impact on society all the more urgent. This is particularly true for developing countries, where risk related to natural hazards affects populations and areas that must deal with stress conditions, such as humanitarian, social and military emergencies. This article presents a methodology for the analysis of social vulnerability, defined and experimented in the context of the international cooperation project “Estudio de la amenaza sísmica y vulnerabilidad física del Gran Santo Domingo”. The methodology, implemented through the employment of a Geographic Information System, led to the elaboration of a “Social Vulnerability Index” and a “Social Vulnerability Map”. These seek to describe the current condition of vulnerability of the city of Santo Domingo de Guzmán (Distrito Nacional) in the Dominican Republic (DR), and are used to define context-related vulnerability scenarios, as well as to indicate the adequate set of mitigation objectives and actions. The results highlight the importance of using social vulnerability study as the point of departure for defining seismic-risk mitigation policies, emergency management, and territorial planning in order to reduce the impacts of disasters. View Full-Text
Keywords: earthquake hazard; developing countries; social vulnerability; exposure; Santo Domingo; indicators; GIS earthquake hazard; developing countries; social vulnerability; exposure; Santo Domingo; indicators; GIS

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Giovene di Girasole, E.; Cannatella, D. Social Vulnerability to Natural Hazards in Urban Systems. An Application in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). Sustainability 2017, 9, 2043.

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