Economic Impacts

Assessments of flooding impacts traditionally focused on the direct, local impacts on people and assets. This part of the SESAME project improved understanding of the economic impacts of floods on SMEs and the knock-on effects of these on the wider economy. Taken together, we term these the flood footprint – the total direct and indirect socio-economic impact of a flood on both the flooded area and wider economic and social systems. We adapted the city-scale Adaptive Regional Input-Output (ARIO) model to measure the flood footprint for a flood in the Lower Don area of Sheffield and the macroeconomic costs and benefits of implementing adaptation measures. Preliminary estimates suggest that it would have taken at least 20 months for Sheffield’s economy to fully recover from the 2007 flood, which had a flood footprint of £571m (6.8% of the city's Gross Value Added). Direct and indirect losses accounted for £295m and £276m respectively.

Flooded town

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Economic Impacts


The potential benefits of analysing flood footprints:

  1. It can help identify the aspects of floods that have the greatest indirect impacts on the economy: for example vulnerable parts of economic supply chains. The identification of such critical, flood-vulnerable points in the socio-economic system would allow government to better focus its adaptation efforts.
  2. By pointing to the many locations and sectors in which flood impacts are experienced, it can inform decisions about who should be paying for risk-reduction measures such as flood defences or flood storage.
  3. The concept of the flood footprint could be used to help raise awareness of the scale of the damage that floods cause. This might encourage more efforts towards business continuity planning and improved resilience.

To learn more about the Economic Impacts part of SESAME, contact Dr Dabo Guan (University of East Anglia).

Flooded kitchen