Flood risk management in Sint Maarten–A coupled agent-based and flood modelling method

Y.A. Abebe, Amineh Ghorbani, Igor Nikolic, Arlex Sanchez, Zoran Vojinovic

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Disaster risk reduction is a major concern of small island developing states. Measures to reduce risk should not only be based on the magnitude of physical hazard, but also on the exposure and vulnerability of communities. In this article, we examine flood risk management policies in the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten using coupled agent-based and flood models. The agent-based model is used to model actors' behaviour in relation to urban building development and policies that are designed to reduce flood hazard and communities' vulnerability and exposure. The policies considered in the model are a Beach Policy, a Building and Housing Ordinance, a Flood Zoning policy and hazard mitigation structural measures. The flood model is used to simulate coastal and pluvial floods on the island. Agent behaviour such as building new houses and implementing hazard reduction measures affect the flood model as these actions affect the rainfall-runoff process. The flood maps generated from the updated flood model simulations are then used to assess the impact and update agents’ attributes and behaviour. The simulations results show that low-lying areas are populated, which increases the exposure, and the number of vulnerable houses is also high. Hence, out of the four policies, implementing hazard reduction measures is the most important. Reducing the flood hazard by widening existing drainage channels, constructing new ones and building dykes as coastal flood defence would reduce the hazard, hence reducing the number of flooded houses. As it affects all households on the island, the Building and Housing Ordinance is an important policy to reduce vulnerability. In general, the coupled model outputs can be used to inform policy decision making and provide insights to policymakers on the island.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109317
JournalEnvironmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Flood risk management
  • Agent-based modelling
  • Socio-hydrology
  • Small island development states
  • Sint maarten


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