Responses to the 2011 floods in Central Thailand: Perpetuating the vulnerability of small and medium enterprises?


The 2011 flood was the worst in Thailand in decades. Many of the impacts occurred in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region. The floods negatively affected small and medium enterprises (SMEs). One location in which high impacts on SMEs occurred was Bang Bua Thong market in Nonthaburi Province. The aim of this article is to investigate (1) how the 2011 floods affected SMEs in the market, (2) how successfully they have recovered, and (3) what actions they and the state have taken to reduce the vulnerability of SMEs to future floods. We found that the economic health of the market community has deteriorated since 2011 due to the damages caused by the floods, the poor state of the Thai economy, and increased business competition. The poor performance of the mayor during the event significantly contributed to the vulnerability of SMEs. So did the lack of an effective early warning system. Since 2011, the government has only made minor efforts to reduce flood risk. These have focused on building floodwalls to reduce risk to large-scale enterprises, which have redistributed risk to unprotected areas. No changes in land use have occurred, and hence, the drainage capacity of the market has improved little. The study revealed that socioeconomic factors interacted with the 2011 flood to negatively affect SMEs, and that key political economy drivers of vulnerability of SMEs remain unaddressed. The market has not been built back better, and the sociopolitical transformations needed to reduce vulnerability have not occurred.

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Fig. 1

Source: Google Earth

Fig. 2

Source: Department of Rural Roads (2014)


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The authors would like to thank their research assistant Suttirak San-ngah, an undergraduate student at Thammasat University, for his help setting up meetings and translating the interviews. We also express our gratitude to Dton Siriwan, the deputy community leader of the BBT Market community, for helping arrange the interviews with members in her community. We would like to thank our funders, the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Environmental Change Research (APN) for supporting this research under their 2013 Focused Call for Proposals on Linking Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) with Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Loss and Damage (L + D) under its Climate Adaptation Framework. The work presented in this article was part of the project “An analysis of longer-term (5–10 years) recovery following major disasters in the Asia-Pacific Region: Lessons for resilient development.” Funding was provided by Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (JP) (Grant No. CAF2014-RR04-NMY-Thomalla).

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Correspondence to Danny Marks.

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Marks, D., Thomalla, F. Responses to the 2011 floods in Central Thailand: Perpetuating the vulnerability of small and medium enterprises?. Nat Hazards 87, 1147–1165 (2017).

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  • 2011 Thailand flood
  • Post-disaster recovery
  • SME
  • Social vulnerability
  • Bang Bua Thong
  • Political economy