The importance of a participatory approach to water resource management in Thailand was the focus of the National Dialogue on Water Resource Management in Thailand.
A national dialogue on water resource management was organized by IUCN’s Regional Water and Wetland Programme on December 22, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. The importance of a participatory approach to water resource management in Thailand was the focus of the dialogue. Stakeholders from four water basins across Thailand (Bang Pa Kong basin, Yom basin, Kuraburi basin and Ka Poe basin) shared their experiences and lessons learned from the ground level, with key national and provincial government agencies. The 50 participants, representing different sectors, shared their deliberations on Thailand’s water resource management experiences.
Community experience was highlighted by Ms. Bussabong Chaokanha, a member of the Prachinburi basin committee, who shared with the audience the experiences gained from the Bang Pakong river basin; in particular, the use of community based participatory surveys and analysis to influence change amongst stakeholders. The ecosystem principles to riverine management are taking hold in numerous systems across Thailand. The dialogues highlighted examples from three river basins; the Mae Yom River basin, the Kuraburi watershed and the Ka Poe watershed, all of which are using a Ridge to Reef approach, which focuses on building water basin networks throughout the entire watershed to ensure a holistic approach to ecosystem management.
The key lessons summarized from the dialogue were that fostering a participatory approach to water resource management is essential for long term sustainability. Government agencies can learn from the experiences of local communities and work more collaboratively with academic institutes and relevant local authorities to ensure that the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) approach can be successfully implemented in Thailand. Furthermore, it was highlighted that communities should be encouraged to develop community water resource management plans at the local level.