by Nattapong Tuntiwiwattanapun, Chulalongkorn University
In the last five decades our global economy has rapidly grown. However, this increasing growth in GDP has contributed to an increase in worldwide natural catastrophes. Thus, there is a growing concern about the way we have been tackling development. The new concept for our development must be sustainable which has to consider the following three pillars: Economic, Environment and Social Welfare. Water management is one of the important factors to pursue sustainable development, since all of human activities and environment are related to water. All countries are encouraged to improve their water security divided into five dimensions which are (1) Household water security (hygiene of public water), (2) Economic water security (sufficient supply water to sustain economic growth), (3) Urban water security (water service and management in urban area), (4) Environmental water security (how well water bodies are developed and manage to sustain ecosystem) and (5) Resilience to water-related disasters (capacity to recovery from water-related disaster).
Thailand is a country that suffer from water-related disasters: serious droughts in Rayong province in 2005 and big flood in 2011 (the fourth flood disaster recorded in the world). After these disasters Thailand is more enthusiastic to develop its water security, especially in water-related disaster management. Thai government came up with increased budget to construct flood protection system and water reservoir. However, there are so many debates on how the budget is and will be utilised and it will take a long time to construct these big projects. As an academic, Dr.Sucharit and his team think that beside “top-down” development approach adopted in government plans, the “bottom-up” development is also necessary to ensure water security in Thailand. Dr. Sucharit and team focused on education of the local people to prevent, reduce and enhance resilience towards water-related disasters. During the serious drought in 2005, his team came to the community near the Map Ta Phut industrial estate to educate local people about how to manage their water such as evaluating and planning for water use each month. Then, local people were aware of how much water they had to use and started to construct their own water reservoirs. This community then became a model for sustainable water development in Thailand. Nevertheless, during big flood in 2011 Dr. Sucharit and team created a web-based flood supportive information system (http://thaicrisis.chula.ac.th) which provides the information and situation of flood in each area of Bangkok. Moreover, this system was also integrated with social media, so it is similar to real time monitoring of flood level. Due to this information network, people can make the decision of how to react during flood situation.