Land Use Adaptation Findings
15th October 2014
The objectives of the study are to 1) investigate the suitability of existing land-use regulations in coping with major floods, 2) to identify necessary laws and regulations for effective land use management and 3) to identify adaptations options for sub-urban communities in the areas likely to be affected by the Master Plan’s structural investments. The methodology used are 1) the analysis of land use change over the past 20 years, 2) legal and institutional analysis of land use planning, 3) stakeholder analysis to identify the groups that affected by major floods, 4) rapid appraisal for a selected sub-urban area and sub-urban communities survey, and 5) cost-benefit analysis of a selected flood prevention investment in infrastructure.
On land use change, during the past 50 years, there has been an increase in urbanization area in Thailand. The residential, commercial and industrial areas expanded into the fertile farmlands while agricultural expansion itself also led to a reduction of forest coverage. On laws and regulations, Thailand is well equipped with laws related to land use. This includes 21 Acts on land use, 3 Acts on forest reserve, 2 Acts on land use planning and building codes and 2 Acts on hazard prevention. Despite these many laws, land use in Thailand is still very much unregulated and has imposed severe indirect costs to society.
The key findings on laws and regulations governing land use are: 1) Land use plans expire every five years and usually there is a 1-2 year gap before the new land use plan will take effect. During these gap years, new constructions boom as they are not subject to land use regulations. 2) Land use planning procedures still lack public participation and hence the direction of the land use plans is frequently not in-line with the interest of the public at large. 3) The fact that land use plans are based on administrative boundaries instead of geographical boundaries, its effectiveness is diluted as areas with shared geographical characteristics may have different land use planning. 4) Thailand still lacks regional and national land use planning. 5) Land use planning lacks effective monitoring. These above observations are the reasons behind ineffective land use planning in Thailand and the subsequent economic and social damages from natural disasters such as floods and droughts.
The finding from stakeholder analysis shows that land use change in the central region of Thailand contributed to severe flooding as new developments became obstacles to water runoffs during the raining seasons. Households, however, have learned to adapt to flooding, such as, flood preparation, flood prevention, adaptation to way of life during flooding period and adaptation after flooding. The households’ ability to respond adequately to flood incidence varies across municipalities depending largely on the capability of municipality officers. Different local administrations have different capability in coping with flooding depending on resource availability, the level of leadership when facing flood crisis as well as the degree of collaboration of the community members. There are cases of both positive and negative forms of cooperation among municipalities during the flooding incidence. However, Ability of the local governments to effectively utilize their budget for flood control depends largely on the decisive judgment of the province governor to declare the province as hazarded flooding area. The delay in decision making led onto the inability of the local government to take action in a timely manner.
The survey of 554 respondents resided in the peri-urban areas shows that
1) 62 percent of the respondents indicates that during the past 20 years there have been changes in land use mostly from agricultural land to residential and commercial areas,
2) changes of land use infrastructure such as road, bridges, drainage, irrigation system became obstacles to water runoffs and contributed to flooding,
3) some households benefited from flooding while others experience losses,
4) following the 2011 flooding most of the households did not sell their property with only 1.4 percent of the respondents sold their property, (However, 37.5 percent of the respondents indicate that they are planning to relocate to another area with less flood risks,
5) about half of the respondents indicate that the 2011 flood did not have any impact on property value while another half report that their property value actually increased following the 2011 flood,
6) despite the fact that physical infrastructure has been a cause of flooding, the households who were affected by the 2011 began investing in dykes and cement walls to prevent the impact of future floods,
7) most of the respondents prefer to join effort in preparing a contingency plan to help protect themselves from future flooding,
8) most of the respondents were not involved in the land use planning procedure of the authority and they express the need for increase public involvement in land use planning.
On the cost benefit analysis, the study finds that the government road improvement project to prevent flooding in Tung Prapimol plantation area generated a positive net present value of 2.626 million baht and has an economic internal rate of return of 8 percent. Despite this positive benefit, this government investment in road improvement project provides benefit to some landowners while imposing higher costs on other farmers. Environmentally, this road improvement project also led to an ecological imbalance as farmland became less fertile and has raised the cost of farming by around 20%.
On policy recommendation, this report proposes the following policy considerations:
1. There is a need for decentralization of localized water management issues to municipalities to enhance flood control efficiency. Local governments are prepared to cope with flood incidence including flood warning, people participation and budget approval.
2. In flood affected areas, land use plans need to be put in place in order to regulate buildings and other manmade water obstruction, e.g. housing estates or industrial estates.
3. Water barriers on Chao Phraya the river bank may become obstacles to water drainage. A Master Plan is needed to provide a comprehensive water management for both upper and lower Chao Phraya basins.
4. In the event of extreme events and flooding is inevitable, such as 2011, a preparation or evacuation plans are needed together with suitable physical flood prevention measures.