|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
During the last quarter of 2011, Thailand experienced its worst flooding since 1942. Almost 14 million people in 65 of Thailand's 77 provinces were affected by flood waters, with widespread damage and loss to homes, factories, businesses, transport and energy infrastructure, social service facilities, and crops and livestock. The Ministry of Finance estimates the total economic damages and losses caused by the floods at approximately $45 billion. The biggest damages and losses were in the manufacturing sector with a total of $32 billion. Industry estimates suggest that insured losses may exceed $10 billion. The Government responded to the 2011 floods with urgent steps to strengthen flood management in the overall context of water resources management. A Master Plan on Water Resource Management has been formulated and adopted by the Cabinet. An emergency decree for the borrowing of B350 billion or around $11.48 billion for investment in flood and water management projects has been passed. The government has set up a National Water Resources and Flood Policy Committee (NWFPC) chaired by the Prime Minister to formulate policies in accordance with the Master Plan. The Government also set up the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC) reporting to NWFPC. The WFMC, chaired by Minister of Sciences and Technology, is responsible for formulating action plans, approval of water management investment projects, and monitoring and evaluation the implementation of investment projects. All relevant line agencies are presented in NWFPC and WFMC. To serve as an operating arm and secretariat to NWFPC and WFMC, Office of the National Water and Flood Policy Committee (ONWF) was established, under the Prime Minister's Office, to be responsible for integrated water resources management including flood management.
The Master Plan on Water Resources Management calls for an integrated approach to investment in water management related projects. ONWF would like to ensure that any approved project is compatible within the context of GoT's wider integrated water and flood management approach and plans, including the appropriate selection of structural and non-structural measures that complement each other for water and flood management. Specifically, GoT recognizes that appraisal, monitoring and evaluation need to be carried out with oversight from high-level national bodies, including the ONWF. Through improved project proposal screening, monitoring and evaluation, the Cabinet will ultimately be able to make more informed decisions on integrated water and flood management based on systematic analysis and reporting from the ONWF and NESDB.
Furthermore, there is recognition that some management measures may serve multiple objectives but there may also need to be trade-offs between water conservation and flood management outcomes. Yom River basin is a key upper Chao Phraya watershed needing strengthened regulation, including structural and non-structural measures. Presently, there is no water regulation structures on the Yom River mainstream. Many studies have been done on options to construct a dam and reservoir in the basin. However, the relevant agencies acknowledge that several aspects (e.g. adequate assessment of the social, ecological and economic impacts of the proposed investment alternatives) have not been addressed by the existing studies on Yom River basin. For policy makers to make informed decision on investment projects along Yom River basin, further review, studies and consultations are needed to support the final choice of options.