Advertisement

Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 45–58 | Cite as

Institutional traps and vulnerability to changes in climate and flood regimes in Thailand

  • Louis Lebel
  • Jesse B. Manuta
  • Po Garden
Original Article

Abstract

Vulnerabilities to floods in Thailand are changing as a result of many factors. Formal and informal institutions help shape exposure, sensitivity and capacities to respond of individuals, social groups and social-ecological systems. In this paper we draw on several case studies of flood events and flood-affected communities to first assess how current practices reflect various laws, procedures, programs and policies for managing floods and disasters and then explore the implications for dealing with additional challenges posed by climate change. Our analysis identifies several institutional traps which need to be overcome if vulnerability is to be reduced, namely capture of agendas by technical elites, single-level or centralized concentration of capacities, organizational fragmentation and overemphasis on reactive crisis management. Possible responses are to expand public participation in managing risks, build adaptive capacities at multiple levels and link them, integrate flood disaster management and climate change adaptation into development planning, prioritize risk reduction for socially vulnerable groups and strengthen links between knowledge and practice. Responses like these could help reduce vulnerabilities under current climate and flood regimes, while also improving capacities to handle the future which every way that unfolds.

Keywords

Risk Vulnerability Institutional traps Climate change Floods Disaster management Thailand 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The Packard Foundation through the START International Secretariat is thanked for their support to Jesse Manuta. The Asia–Pacific Network for Global Environmental Change Research, START and the Challenge Program for Water and Food (PN50 funded by Echel Eau and International Fund for Agriculture Development) provided support to Po Garden and Louis Lebel. The paper was finalized with support from the Twin2Go Project funded by the European Commission FP7. The paper is a contribution to the IHDP Earth System Governance Project and Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience. We thank Rajesh Daniel, Lilibeth Acosta-Michlik, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

References

  1. Adger NW (2000) Institutional adaptation to environmental risk under the transition in Vietnam. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 90:738–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adger NW (2001) Scales of governance and environmental justice for adaptation and mitigation of climate change. J Int Dev 13:921–931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adger NW (2006) Vulnerability. Glob Environ Change 16:268–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. ADPC (2000) Community based disaster management. Trainer’s guide. Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  5. Aeerts J, Droogers P (2009) Adapting to climate change in the water sector. In: Ludwig F, Kabat P, van Schaik H, van der Valk M (eds) Climate change adaptation in the water sector. Earthscan, London, pp 87–107Google Scholar
  6. Assanangkornchai S, Tangboonngam S, Edwards JG (2004) The flooding of Hat Yai: predictors of adverse emotional responses to a natural disaster. Stress Health 20:81–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Atsamon L, Sangchan L, Thavivongse S (2009) Assessment of extreme weather events along the coastal areas of Thailand. In: 89th American Meteorological Society Annual MeetingGoogle Scholar
  8. Bangkok Post (2008a) A disaster in the Making. Editorial. Bangkok Post, 17 May 2008, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  9. Bangkok Post (2008b) Gulf communities ‘face devastation’. Bangkok Post, 15 August 2008, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  10. Bangkok Post (2008c) Storm surge fears. Is the threat real? Bangkok Post, 5 October 2008, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  11. Berkes F (2007) Understanding uncertainty and reducing vulnerability: lessons from resilience thinking. Nat Hazards 41:283–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. BMA, GLF, UNEP (2009) Bangkok assessment report on climate change 2009. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Green Leaf Foundation, United Nations Environment Programme, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  13. Burton I, van Aalst MK (1999) Come hell or high water: Integrating climate change vulnerability and adaptation into Bank work. World Bank Environment Department Papers, 72. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  14. Carpenter SR, Brock WA (2008) Adaptive capacity and traps. Ecol Soc 13:40. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/iss2/art40/ Google Scholar
  15. Chinvanno S, Souvannalath S, Lersupavithnapa B, Kerdsuk V, Thuan NTH (2008a) Climate risks and rice farming in the lower Mekong River countries. In: Leary N, Adejuwon J, Barros V, Burton I, Kulkarni J, Lasco R (eds) Climate change and vulnerability. Earthscan, London, pp 333–350Google Scholar
  16. Chinvanno S, Souvannalath S, Lersupavithnapa B, Kerdsuk V, Thuan NTH (2008b) Strategies for managing climate risks in the Lower Mekong River Basin: a place-based approach. In: Leary N, Adejuwon J, Barros V, Burton I, Kulkarni J, Lasco R (eds) Climate change and adaptation. Earthscan, London, pp 228–246Google Scholar
  17. Chuenniran A (2008) Thais warned of storms in Nargis’ wake: cyclone weakens but parts of country at risk. Bangkok Post, 8 May 08, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  18. DDPM (2006) Thailand country report. Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Ministry of Interior, ThailandGoogle Scholar
  19. Eastham J, Mpelaskoka F, Mainuddin M, Ticehurst C, Dyce P, Hodgson G, Ali R, Kirby M (2008) Mekong river basin water resources assessment: impacts of climate change. CSIRO: water for a healthy country National Research FlagshipGoogle Scholar
  20. Elster J (1992) Local justice: how institutions allocate scarce goods and necessary burdens. Russell Sage Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Few R (2003) Flooding, vulnerability and coping strategies: local responses to a global threat. Prog Dev Stud 3:43–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Folke C, Hahn T, Olsson P, Norberg J (2005) Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems. Annu Rev Environ Resour 30:441–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Friend R (2007) Securing sustainable livelihoods through wise use of wetland resources: reflections on the experience of the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme (MWBP). Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme, Vientianne, Lao PDRGoogle Scholar
  24. Fussel H-M (2007) Vulnerability: a generally applicable conceptual framework for climate change research. Glob Environ Change 17:155–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gallopin G (2006) Linkages between vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity. Glob Environ Change 16:293–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garden P (2007) The Chiang Mai floods of 2005. USER Working Paper WP-2007-19. Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Chiang Mai University, Chiang MaiGoogle Scholar
  27. Government of Thailand (2007) Royal Gazette, vol 124 Part 52 A, 7 September 2007 (B.E. 2550). Government of ThailandGoogle Scholar
  28. Hallegatte S (2009) Strategies to adapt to an uncertain climate change. Glob Environ Change 19:240–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hongthong P (2006) Farmers upset over huge floodwater diversions. The Nation: Bangkok, 6 December 2006Google Scholar
  30. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  31. Kamolvej T (2006) The integration of intergovernmental coordination and information management in response to immediate crises: Thailand emergency management. Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, PittsburgGoogle Scholar
  32. Koch IC, Vogel C, Patel Z (2007) Institutional dynamics and climate change adaptation in South Africa. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 12:1323–1339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lakanavichian S (2001) Forest policy and history in Thailand. Research Centre on Forest and People in Thailand, University of Aarhus, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  34. Lebel L (2007) Adapting to climate change. Global Asia 2:15–21Google Scholar
  35. Lebel L, Sinh BT (2007) Politics of floods and disasters. In: Lebel L, Dore J, Daniel R, Koma YS (eds) Democratizing water governance in the Mekong region. Mekong Press, Chiang Mai, pp 37–54Google Scholar
  36. Lebel L, Sinh B (2009) Risk reduction or redistribution? Flood management in the Mekong region. Asian J Environ Disaster Manage 1:23–39Google Scholar
  37. Lebel L, Anderies JM, Campbell B, Folke C, Hatfield-Dodds S, Hughes T, Wilson J (2006a) Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social-ecological systems. Ecol Soc 11(1):11:19. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art19/
  38. Lebel L, Nikitina E, Kotov V, Manuta J (2006b) Assessing institutionalized capacities and practices to reduce the risks of flood disasters. In: Birkmann J (ed) Measuring vulnerability to natural hazards: towards disaster resilient societies. United Nations University Press, Tokyo, pp 359–379Google Scholar
  39. Lebel P, Chaibu P, Lebel L (2006c) Fish farm management practices in the upper Ping River, northern Thailand. USER Working Paper WP-2006-07. Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Chiang Mai University Chiang MaiGoogle Scholar
  40. Lebel L, Nikitina E, Sinh BT (2008) Climate change and the science and practice of managing floods in urbanizing regions of Monsoon Asia. MAIRS Working Paper Series #4. Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study International Project Office and the Institute for Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Science, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  41. Lebel L, Foran T, Garden P, Manuta BJ (2009a) Adaptation to climate change and social justice: challenges for flood and disaster management in Thailand. In: Ludwig F, Kabat P, van Schaik H, van der Valk M (eds) Climate change adaptation in the water sector. Earthscan, London, pp 125–141Google Scholar
  42. Lebel L, Garden P, Subsin N, Nan SN (2009b) Averted crises, contested transitions: water management in the Upper Ping River basin, northern Thailand. In: Huitema D, Meijerink S (eds) Water policy entrepreneurs. A research companion to water transitions around the globe. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 137–157Google Scholar
  43. Lebel L, Sinh BT, Garden P, Seng S, Tuan LA, Truc DV (2009c) The promise of flood protection: dykes and dams, drains and diversions. In: Molle F, Foran T, Kakonen J (eds) Contested waterscapes in the Mekong region. Earthscan, London, pp 283–306Google Scholar
  44. Limjirakan S, Limsakul A, Sriburi T (2009) Increasing trend of extreme rain events over Bangkok metropolitan area. In: 89th American Meteorological Society Annual MeetingGoogle Scholar
  45. Maiklad P (1999) Development and achievements in flood control and management in Thailand. In: UN-ESCAP (ed) Regional cooperation in the 21st century in flood control and management in Asia and the Pacific. United Nations, New York, pp 59–111Google Scholar
  46. Manuta J, Khrutmuang S, Huaisai D, Lebel L (2006) Institutionalized incapacities and practice in flood disaster management in Thailand. Sci Cult 72:10–22Google Scholar
  47. Molle F (2008) Nirvana concepts, narratives and policy models: insights from the water sector. Water Alternat 1:23–40Google Scholar
  48. Mollinga P, Meinzen-Dick R, Merrey D (2007) Politics, plurality and problemsheds: a strategic approach for reform of agricultural water resources management. Dev Policy Rev 25:699–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. MRC (2009) Climate change adaptation in the Lower Mekong Basin countries. Regional synthesis report. Climate change and adaptation initiative. Mekong River Commission, VientianeGoogle Scholar
  50. Naess LO, Bang O, Eriksen S, Vevatne J (2005) Institutional adaptation to climate change: flood responses at the municipal level in Norway. Glob Environ Change 15:125–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. NESDB, UNEP, TEI (2008) National sustainable development strategy for Thailand: a guidance manual. Office of National Economic and Social Development Board, United Nations Environment Programme, Thailand Environment Institute, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  52. Nikitina E (2006) Success and failures in flood risk reduction programs across Asia: some lessons learned. Sci Cult 72:72–83Google Scholar
  53. OEPP (2000) Thailand’s initial National communication under the United Nations framework convention on climate change. Office of Environmental Policy and Planning, Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  54. ONEP (2007) Five-year strategy on climate change (2008-12). Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, Ministry of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentGoogle Scholar
  55. Ostrom E (2005) Understanding institutional diversity. Princeton University Press, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  56. Paavola J, Adger NW (2006) Fair adaptation to climate change. Ecol Econ 56:594–609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pahl-Wostl C (2007) Transitions towards adaptive management of water facing climate and global change. Water Resour Manage 21:49–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pahl-Wostl C (2009) A conceptual framework for analyzing adaptive capacity and multi-level learning processes in resource governance regimes. Glob Environ Change 19:345–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Phien-Wej N, Nutalaya P, Aung Z, Zhibin T (1993) Catastrophic landslides and debris flows in Thailand. Bull Eng Geol Environ 48:93–100Google Scholar
  60. Polterovich V (2001) Institutional traps. In: Klein L, Porner M (eds) The new Russia: transition gone awry. Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp 93–116Google Scholar
  61. Sharma D, Gupta AD, Babel MS (2007) Spatial disaggregation of bias-corrected GCM precipitation for improved hydrologic simulation: Ping River Basin, Thailand. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci Discuss 4:35–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Singhrattna N, Rajagopalan B, Kumar KK, Clark M (2005) Interannual and interdecadal variability of Thailand summer monsoon season. J Clim 18:1697–1708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Siribakdi K (2008) Water worries. Bangkok Post, Bangkok, 10 April 2008Google Scholar
  64. Smit B, Wandel J (2006) Adaptation, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability. Glob Environ Change 16:282–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sukpanich T (2008) Storm warning. Bangkok Post, Bangkok, 11 May 08Google Scholar
  66. Takeuchi K (2001) Increasing vulnerability to extreme floods and societal needs of hydrological forecasting. J Hydrol Sci 46:869–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tanavud C, Yongchalermchai C, Bennui A, Densreeserekul O (2004) Assessment of flood risk in Hat Yai municipality, Southern Thailand, using GIS. J Nat Disaster Sci 26:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tangwisutijit N (2007) Bangkok will be underwater, experts predict. The Nation, Bangkok, 26 June 2007Google Scholar
  69. Tangwisutijit N (2008) Millions of Bangkokians at risk. The Nation. 2 January 2008. BangkokGoogle Scholar
  70. The Nation (2006) Large areas ‘needed for overflows’. The Nation, Bangkok, 12 October 2006Google Scholar
  71. The Nation (2007) Call to learn lessons and brace for disasters. The Nation, Bangkok, 22 December 2007Google Scholar
  72. Thomas DSG, Twyman C (2005) Equity and justice in climate change adaptation amongst natural-resource-dependent societies. Glob Environ Change 15:115–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. van Beek E (2009) Managing water under current climate variability. In: Ludwig F, Kabat P, van Schaik H, van der Valk M (eds) Climate change adaptation in the water sector. Earthscan, London, pp 51–77Google Scholar
  74. Walker B, Carpenter SR, Anderies J, Abel N, Cumming GS, Janssen MA, Lebel L, Norberg J, Peterson GD, Pritchard L (2002) Resilience management in social-ecological systems: a working hypothesis for a participatory approach. Conserv Ecol 6:14. [Online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol6/iss1/art14 Google Scholar
  75. Wickramanayake E, Shook GA, Rojnkureesatien T (1995) Rehabilitation planning for flood affected areas of Thailand: experience from Phipun District. Disasters 19:348–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wipatayotin A (2007) Group floats plan to keep rising sea out. Bangkok Post, Bangkok, ThailandGoogle Scholar
  77. Young OR (2002) The institutional dimensions of environmental change: fit, interplay and scale. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  78. Yuthavong Y (2007) Thai strategies to fight climate change. The Nation, Bangkok, 26 December 2007Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Faculty of Social SciencesChiang Mai UniversityChiang MaiThailand
  2. 2.School of Arts and SciencesAteneo de Davao UniversityDavao CityThe Philippines
  3. 3.InternewsChiang MaiThailand

Personalised recommendations