Collaborative planning between the government and the community is increasing urban climate change resilience in Thailand. The Community-based flood preparedness in Hat Yai City project involves at-risk communities in all stages of the process, which is aimed at building self-reliant, long-term resilience to climate change.
Urbanization, modern agricultural practices, and new construction have obstructed waterways and exacerbated seasonal flooding in the city of Hat Yai in southern Thailand. Failure to consider flooding in planning has caused property damage and harmed people’s lives. Studies have indicated that climate change could increase regional rainfall, which would further intensify flooding. Key flood response systems are lacking, placing vulnerable groups at even greater risk. These groups already bear huge losses and health burdens during floods, and typically have limited capacity to adapt to such challenges.
This project aims to strengthen community-based preparation for and mitigation of flood-related impacts. Partnership and collaboration between government and community ensure involvement of all stakeholders. In the assessment and planning stage, local communities provide information on their community-based land use, among other things. In the next phase, community knowledge is built on climate implications and flood-related risks, as well as preparedness and adaptation within selected communities. Local communities are given the freedom to develop their own flood plans in consultation with national and local government agencies. This promotes local ownership of the products of planning, and the potential for long-term transformational change and self-reliance of the communities.
Helping the planet
Improved flood planning lessens the impacts of natural disasters, preventing degradation of existing natural habitats. Planning can include establishment of natural buffer zones, which could contribute to conservation. Prevention of flooding’s most disastrous effects preserves riverbanks and coastlines, enabling them to better withstand further weather fluctuations and rising sea levels. Additionally, sustainable management of natural resources through proper land use preserves resources for the future.
The project is expected to reduce the vulnerability of local communities, largely comprised of poor farmers and fishermen. Implementing the plans would reduce catastrophic flooding, while structures such as warning and response systems would help communities when flooding does take place. Integrated plans should increase such communities’ access to healthcare, and improve sanitation and infrastructure – contributing to a higher quality of life. The project also creates local employment opportunities, which could help alleviate poverty in the region.
Implementation of the community-based flood preparedness planning, once completed, will demonstrate effectiveness of the project. So far, concrete results include installation of a water filtration system in Kutao, making access to potable water cheaper and easier for those in this low-income urban zone. As the community empowers itself, it can share skills, knowledge and capacities with surrounding communities. As the project enters its final phase, plans for replicating it are already in the works.
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