HomeCase StudiesBridging The Knowledge Gap Between Local Communities and Technical Agencies for Flood Early Warning in Thailand
Bridging The Knowledge Gap Between Local Communities and Technical Agencies for Flood Early Warning in Thailand
Flooding provides a host of challenges throughout the Chao Phraya River Basin of Thailand. The devastating flood in 2011 served as a stark reminder of the fact that the communities in the central plain of Thailand are at risk and should prepare themselves better. ADPC initiatives include the Program for Reduction of Vulnerability to Floods in Thailand. The program was launched with the objective of increasing the capacity of technical agencies and communities in flood early warning for community flood risk reduction and resilience. Recognizing the importance of community-based flood early warning systems (CBFEWS), the program developed and implemented pilot CBFEWS in 4 (four) communities in Ayutthaya Province and Singburi Province by engaging technical agencies including the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DDPM), Thai Meteorological Department (TMD), Royal Irrigation Department (RID), Department of Water Resource (DWR), and the local government authority in all program implementing phases through consultative meetings, forums, and trainings on development and facilitation, as well as CBFEWS planning.
The program was divided into 3 phases of development. During the 1st phase from 2012-2014, the pilot took place in Ban Mai Patthana and Ban Hua Hin in Tha Luang Sub-district, Ayutthaya Province. After we’d learned that CBFEWS was one of the main elements in the community that could be improved, the concept was to able to be adapted into the CBDRM activities, taken into consideration its importance. The program implemented during 2014-2015 was focused on developing the CBFEWS training course and pilot testing in 4 sub-district in 3 provinces. During the last phase in 2015-2017, the program worked with selected sub-district administrative authorities to conduct the sub-district assessment to define the pilot community to be part of the program in CBDRM implementation.
The key activities were:
Sub-district hazard assessment to define the pilot community which is a flood prone area that is able to implement the program
Community rapport and social preparation
Community Rapid Assessment to understand the community conditions related to floods hazards which included community hazard profile, perspective of floods, and others.
Participatory Risk Assessment (PRA)
Identify the non-structural and structural measures to be implemented in the community
Formulation of CBDRM committee
Development of Flood Risk Management plan
Demonstration activities in flood risk reduction measures (both structural and non-structural measures)
Establishment of the network between the community, local authority, line technical agencies and private sector
Conducting the simulation or table top exercise
Follow up with communities on how they could use the interventions during the rainy season
The community joined the PRA activities which were also considered as capacity development activities. The program works closely with the provincial DDPM office, local government, and private sector in the area if that area has a company. The PRA process is a crucial part of CBDRM implementation as it facilitates the community's learning and discussion about their flood related information and areas that need improvement. After the PRA process, the community needed to discuss their required preparedness or prevention measures. The local skills and knowledge were integrated into the demonstration activities. The local government and provincial DDPM offices were among the key of agencies who could be a coordinator. The local government coordinated with community leaders while working closely as CBDRM facilitators. The provincial DDPM office coordinated CBDRM activities.
At the end of program, all interventions were handed over to the community. The consultative meeting organized for the community and local government to discuss the flood interventions planning, such as some mitigation, is in the local government plan already. As a result, the community could prioritize the intervention and implement it as a demonstration activity. Additionally, the local government could support the intervention implementation e.g. the local government could fund the establishment of some structural mechanisms and provide maintenance funding.
The program tried to include all people in the community. The level of participation of vulnerable groups depended on the local context. Taking into account the different needs and concerns, the vulnerable groups were parts of all CBDRM processes. The inclusion approach was implemented throughout the program.
The CBDRM process included all group representatives including women, children, youth, elderly, and persons with disabilities. However, in some communities, persons with disabilities couldn't come to join, so the program conducted discussions with them separately. In Ayutthaya Province, the program included migrants (from other provinces) in program implementation.
The CBFEWS development was designed based on the needs of different groups. For example in Ban Mai Patthana the elderly played a crucial role in program implementation. The early warning and flood monitoring was conducted by the group of elderly.
On the other hand, in Ban Koh Pra where the program implemented the CBDRM, it was found in many aspects that the youth, women, and LGBT group are actively joining and implementing CBDRM from the assessment through implementation.
CBDRM is a process and needs time to be implemented. The level of change depends on many factors. Leadership is very important to continue activity and mainstream into other development programs in communities. For example, Ban Mai Patthana and Ban Hua Hin show a sample of leadership which leads to community flood preparedness activities in the communities and incorporate CBDRM activities into their community development plans.
Ban Koh Pra found that an early warning system is one of the significant changes in the community context. The community used to feel that flooding is normal situation and didn't know the source of information. After attending the training, the community members used mobile application to get information and are now able to forecast the flood level by themselves.
The simple tool used to monitor the change is communication. The program team continues to work by providing technical support to the pilot communities and is also considered as evaluation tool when communicating with the pilot community. Additionally, the community will always discuss with the team if there are any related concerns. The team also learns from provincial DDPM office and local government. The parameter was set in a program implementation evaluation index.
There are 4 communities implementing CBDRM under the program. 3 communities in Ayutthaya and another one is in Singburi Province.
Ban Mai Pattana and Ban Hua Hin continue CBDRM, particularly early warning systems and water filters for emergency, which are continued by the community committee. The program finished in 2014. Two communities are continuing CBDRM activities until now. For example, the leaders in these two communities hosted a flood plan review workshop at the sub district level in 2017, Ban Mai Pattana integrated CBDRM activities into their development plan and received an award as an innovative community at the regional level. Ban Hua Hin, where EWS and water filters for emergency were established, uses community funding to maintain the system and other costs.
Ban Koh Pra has committee members from all groups in the community. The program finished in 2016. Currently, the committee was able to carry on the CBDRM activities and expand their network with other development activities. In the past there have not been many development activities implemented in the community of Ban Koh Pra, which is located in the middle of Chaophraya river. The program introduced CBDRM activities in the community in 2015. The community leaders and community members were highly active in joining program activities. The community members volunteered to be on a committee, which received training in specific topics that could equip them to implement CBDRM activities. A shelter management committee was trained on safe site selection and shelter management, and a rescue team received training in community action for response. CBFEWS was established in the community and trained the committee and the youth in community. After program ended, the community continued activities on their own, especially the CBFEWS committee which has expanded the network not only in the Chaopraya early warning system network but also linking it with other basins to share their knowledge and experience. The EWS committee collected the flood information and forecasted the flood situation to warn other communities.
From 2015-2016 the program conducted a CBDRM capacity building activity for monks to identify problems, needs, and suggested solutions in floods risk reduction. The workshop outputs were shared with the local government authority and showed that the monks in the community also needed basic life elements during flood situations. The needs included life jackets and basic medical services. The local government then provided these needs from the local government budget.
In Ban Mai Patthana and Ban Hua Hin the communities carry on the CBDRM activities themselves. The program team continues communicating with the community. Flood awareness in the community has increased and surrounding communities would like to implement CBDRM in their communities. The community CBDRM committees were able to implement the activity after the program end and guide other community leaders to become aware of the flood situation. The information sharing in the group continues to exist and the flood preparedness activities have become part of community daily life.
In Ban Koh Pra, the community has become proactive with improved flood awareness. Youth in the community more actively participate in CBDRM and community development activities. The community is aware of the importance of shelter management. The community committee has expanded their activities into specific issues related to flooding across the network. The community committee and other volunteers will be trained on elder heath care. The youth committee leads the development of project proposals to get funding for community activities. The emergency response plan was implemented in 2016 and 2017. The community did not request any help from outside when floods were below 3 meters.
The CBDRM process under the program covered both structural and non-structural mitigation which was implemented under the program. The committee was trained in specific topics related to their committee function. In addition, they were provided with equipment which was usable for specific function, such as in Ban Koh Pra who needed to have their own first aid and patient lifting equipment, the community committee passed the community action for response training and got the kit.
The private sector could support CBDRM with medium-term funding. For long-term funding, the DDPM could get involved and, to make the CBDRM in Thailand more sustainable, there is a need to work as multi-stakeholders.
The lessons learned from the program in implementation have been used in other programs. In addition, the program has developed the guidelines for the private sector to incorporate CBDRR into their CSR strategies which is considered the initiative step of ADPC.