Record flooding in 2011 took a heavy toll on Thailand, leading to an estimated $45 billion worth of damage, large swathes of agricultural and residential land inundated, millions left homeless or displaced, and over 9,000 factories forced to temporarily close. In the wake of the disaster, there were calls for more integrated planning of flood and water resources management to avoid such catastrophic impacts of extreme weather in the future.
Aligning with this goal, since 2017, ICEM has been supporting Thailand’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) with the development of an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) modeling tool to understand the impact of different management strategies and contribute to the development of basin-wide master plans.
An important part of the project has been capacity building. Between August 2017 and June 2018, DWR staff from central and regional levels received training on how to use the modelling tool and applied it to two pilot sites: Eastern Coast River Basins and Nam Phong River Basin. Trainees learned how to process all input data required for building a model, and tested possible scenarios addressing flood, climate change, water allocation, crop and reservoir management.
Training workshop (left); input data set for the Eastern Coast River Basins model (right)
Strengthening the capacity in effective integrated water resource management will have a significant impact on Thailand’s ability to create sustainable and climate resilient solutions that mitigate against disaster and protect livelihoods within river basins.
Four key outputs were produced as part of Phase I of the project – the IWRM User Guide (translated into Thai), which provides step by step instructions on how to use the IWRM modelling tool; two reports presenting preliminary findings from the modelling of selected scenarios in the Nam Phong River Basin and Eastern Coast River Basins; and guidelines for using the IWRM model for stakeholder engagement emphasizing how to strengthen active involvement in basin planning.
Phase II of this project is a pilot Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Rayong Province which aims to (i) demonstrate an SEA of integrated development, and (ii) review and recommend revisions to the draft SEA guidelines prepared by the Thai national subcommittee on SEA convened by NESDB.