The “International Training course on IWRM under Climate Change” was held by the Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand(DWR) and Asian Development Bank Institute(ADBI) in association with Japan Water Agency (JWA) as NARBO Secretariat from 14-16 June, 2016 in Bangkok and Nakon Nayok province, Thailand. There were 35 participants who were responsible for water resources management in Central and Regional Offices of Thailand and 10 international practitioners of water from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines and Viet Nam.
While the concept of IWRM has been well disseminated and incorporated into the water policy in many countries, there still exist gaps between implementation and knowledge. Particularly at the river basin level, there are some cases of difficulties in implementing integrated water resources management due to practitioners’ lack of knowledge of IWRM. As DWR has been working on IWRM since its establishment and has kept on focusing to cope with the negative impact such as climate change, it is now a high time for the department to promote deepening of understanding of IWRM throughout the country. Considering this situation, the course was arranged to provide an opportunity to review the basic knowledge of IWRM and obtain related topics which would help implementing IWRM.
In the keynote speech session, Dr. Keizrul Bin Abdullah, the chairperson of NARBO stressed the necessity to share each country’s experiences in water resources management in Asia because most of Asian countries were surrounded by many neighboring countries in addition to the fact that IWRM had become gradually important to get consensus among various stakeholders through ‘bottom-up process’ to manage water resources efficiently. After the speech, Mr. Koichiro Omoto of ADBI briefly explained the basic principles of IWRM and introduced “IWRM indicator” as a clue to grasp the situations surrounding the practitioners on water and improve the existing plans.
Then, Mr. Dunyarit Homnan, the Senior Engineer of DWR explained the strategic plan of Water Resources Management in Thailand (2015-2016). Mr. Homnan showed the 6 current themes and goals on water resources management to be accomplished in Thailand by the end of this term. Dr. Ladawan Kumpa, the Deputy Secretary General of the National Economy and Social Development Board (NESDB) also introduced the current National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP) and National IWRM plan of Thailand. She explained that making water resources management to become a tool to give equal benefits among stakeholders and keeping its sustainability were two of the important topics in the NESDP and introduced that a local community network plays an important role in Thailand with their objectives of conservation of forests, plants and animals, etc. Dr. Mitsumasa Okada, Professor of the Open University of Japan introduced the changing criteria of water quality as a result of impact of climate change, citing the case occurred in Lake Biwa. Dr. Sucharit Koontanakulvong, the Associate Professor of Chulalongkorn University, introduced his accumulated knowledge and lessons learnt on tackling and lessening damages caused by past water-related disasters in Wang Bua irrigation project area from the research study.
After the lecture session, all participants were divided into 5 groups and each group gave a presentation after discussing currrent issues on water resources by using “IWRM indicator” which was developed to apply viewpoints of IWRM to actual problems. The agenda presented in this session were pressing issues of each organization to which participants belong. Those would be summerized, as follows :
- There is a lack of mechanism to solve the conflict among stakeholders and no empowered organisation to coordinate among them in the country.
- Coordination mechanism is still weak.
- Severe saltwater intrusion is causing a negative impact in terms of water use for drinking and irrigation.
- Indifference of the local leader to water resources management and lack of integrated management plan
- Capacity building is necessary (for the practitioners of water resources management ).
Most of the groups regarded that they were on the right track on the progress of IWRM and understood that they were at the stage where they should address the better coordination among various stakeholders in each country. In conclusion of this session, Dr. Keizrul and Mr.Tadashige Kawasaki of Japan Water Agency showed an example of how to improve actual situation in IWRM implementation surrounding them by using various tools
including networking, publication and afore-mentioned indicator.
We also had the opportunity to know an actual case study on water allocation in the rural area. Khun Dan Prakan Chon Operation and Maintenance Project site is located in Bang Pakong River Basin. (It is in Nakon Nayok province, about 100km northeast from Bangkok). Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam is famous as one of the largest reservoirs in Thailand and has the function of mitigation of flood, drought and acid soil, in addition to the original function of supplying water for irrigation and urban use and power generation. Ms. Nattawadee Yaemsai, engineering officer of Royal Irrigation Department (RID) and Mr. Sombat Jaiyong explained the outline of the water distribution of this project. We also watched and heard various activities of water environmenmt conservation in Thailand from Ms. Khanittha Khamchalee of Bhumirak Dhamachart Center and Mr. Sawai Sriya, the owner of Sriya Sufficient Economy Learning Center.
While stakeholder coordination is one of the important processes in the IWRM, a participant from outside of Thailand said the coordination method in Thailand would be a good example to be shared. We hope this opportunity will become a helpful learning opportunity for all participants.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all persons concerned as well as participants from Thailand and other countries, especially to all members of organizing committee in the DWR, namely Mr. Nirut Koonphol, the Director of the Bureau of International Cooperation, Ms. Orathai Ongrattana, the Director, Foreign Relations and International Cooperation Division, Ms. Siriwan Preeyachit, Policy and Plan Analyst of the division and Mr. Kergkeart Kumarasingha the Director of Upper Mun River Basin Coordination and Management Division for arranging and coordinating with various divisions and persons concerned to make this training course smooth and successful.