Project Description

Strengthening Integrated Water Resource Planning and Management at River Basin Level

Donor/Partner: Asian Development Bank (ADB)    |    Duration: 2017-2018   |    Location: Thailand

About: The 2011 severe floods affected almost 14 million people in 65 of Thailand’s 77 provinces. The Ministry of Finance estimated the total economic damage and loss caused by the floods at approximately $45 billion. One important lesson learned from was that integrated water resources management (IWRM) needed to be strengthened as flood management is closely linked with broader issues of water resources management. Without an integrated and balanced approach to manage both demand and supply of water, Thailand will not be prepared for future flooding.

In IWRM, the basin is recognized as a natural and practical hydrological unit for water resources planning and management. Using the basin as a planning unit allows for whole basin solutions to be developed to address upstream and downstream problems.

Stakeholder engagement and involvement processes in Thailand need to be strengthened to ensure meaningful consultations during all phases of river basin planning and development. Modeling applications to assess individual and cumulative impacts should be introduced to support decision-making processes.

To facilitate decision-making among stakeholders in the river basin planning process,  in 2015 the IWRM modeling tool was pilot tested in Yom River basin and Mae Ta sub-basin under the Technical Assistance (TA) for Strengthening Integrated Water and Flood Management Implementation. The modeling tool allows for integrated social, economic, and environmental assessments of water management scenarios in the basin. As an open-source model, trained personnel can update and manipulate the modeling tool to understand the impact of changing management scenario. Graphic displays of the results helped stakeholders at Mae Ta sub-basin of Yom River basin to better understand flood, drought, and water allocation issues in the basin. Demonstration of the impacts of different water management scenarios helped the stakeholders reach agreement on how to manage the sub-basin to minimize the risk of future floods and improve the livelihoods of sub-basin communities.

Thailand’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) requested the improvement of a base IWRM modeling tool based on the approach demonstrated at Yom River basin. The base IWRM modeling tool can then be used as the basis to develop planning scenarios and river basin plans in all 25 river basins in Thailand.

Using the IWRM modeling tool as a decision-support tool will enhance the capacity of DWR officers and river basin committees to develop spatially driven and integrated river basin plans. The deployment of these plans will improve the livelihoods of communities along river basins in the medium to long term through informed decisions regarding water resource use and develop coping strategies to deal with flood, drought, and weather-related extreme events.

The TA has two outputs:

  • Output 1: Establish base river basin IWRM modeling tool: the IWRM modeling tool is a computer-based hydrological model that enables users to test the hydrological impact of different water resources management approaches in a river basin. The IWRM model pilot tested under the Technical Assistance for Strengthening Integrated Water and Flood Management Implementation will be further developed as a base IWRM simulation tool at the river basin level. Alternative models will also be considered.
  • Output 2: Increase capacity of river basin personnel in river basin integrated planning: as vital links in community-based, multi-stakeholder involvement, DWR personnel and river basin committees will be trained to collate and coordinate hydro-meteorological data and carry out simulations to assess alternative strategies.