The goal of Wetlands Alliance activities in Thailand is to build the capacity of Thai public and NGO sector agencies to assist their counterparts in neighbouring countries and to enhance Thailand’s capacity as an emerging donor. Among the donor community, Thailand has the advantage of having a similar culture to the other countries in the Mekong region when compared with the more developed donor nations of Europe. It also shares many elements of its history with neighbouring countries and has a vested interest in developing closer relations with its neighbours to address increasing important issues of environmental management that can only be addressed on a regional basis.
To achieve this goal, the Alliance must help develop mutually beneficial partnerships for the management of wetlands and aquatic resources with local government agencies, local NGO’s, community organizations, public societies and private sector enterprises. The focus for these partnerships will be local government agencies and their links to other public and private sector agencies and their collaborative efforts to develop an integrated approach to the management of wetlands and aquatic resources.
The aim of the partnerships is to make a contribution to local development and to generate information, experience, lessons and expertise related to wetlands and aquatic resources management that can be used by WAP partners in the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Both government and non-government agencies in Thailand recognize that there is now a considerable amount of experience relating to practical strategies for a more holistic approach to the management of wetlands, aquatic resources and river basins. This experience evolved gradually following the changes in the Thai constitution and the political and administrative systems that allowed for a more de-centralized approach to development and which placed more decision-making power and ownership for the development process at the community level. A significant part of this evolution has been the realization by a significant number of agencies and actors that water-related resources are of central importance to development and that development efforts should be focused around water and water-related issues. Consequently, there has been more effort and interest in developing water-focused development strategies and this is reflected in the large number of local-level plans that have river basins, watersheds, rivers, streams, or reservoirs as their focus. However, there is a need for continued guidance and advice on how to develop these approaches and apply them in practice.
There is also a growing understanding that it is necessary to discuss these issues with other countries, and that government offices can benefit from looking at similar problems in a different context. Because of the political and administrative reforms over the past decade in Thailand, it is useful and productive to build collaboration with neighboring countries on a semi-formal basis. Province-to-province agreements have increased in recent years, especially in the private sector, and there are now many people in local government who feel confident enough to establish dialogues with their counterparts in other countries. Communication no longer has to be routed through Bangkok and this opens significant opportunities for local level exchange of information and experiences.
The two focal points for WAP activities within Thailand are the Northeast and coastal areas in Pak Phanang.
Pak Phanang is on the east coast of southern Thailand. There has been considerable investment in development initiatives through the King’s Royal Development Projects. One of these projects is providing continuing support to CORIN act as a facilitator to develop a model of poverty alleviation and food security.
A USAID project and Netherlands Government supported project from 1989-2003 used Pak Phanang River Basin as a pilot area to develop tools and methods that strengthened CORIN. As a result, the Pak Phanang case has been used by CORIN as an open laboratory for training participants from other countries in Southeast Asia and Africa. The Thai Government has also provided support over the past 10 years.
Pak Phanang River Basin and coastal area has diverse resources, livelihood activities and culture, a complex ecosystem and is dynamic in terms of water use, flooding and physical change. It is a classic study area for coastal zone management.
The focus of WAP activities in Northeast Thailand is in the province of Udon Thani. This focus will capitalize on the 20-year history of collaboration between AIT and Udon Thani provincial authorities as part of AIT previous capacity building work in Northeast Thailand for improved management of aquatic resources. WWF also has an on-going wetlands conservation project based in the neighboring province of Nongkhai.
Implementation and backstopping
Activities link to the on-going initiatives of AIT, CORIN and WWF in Thailand as well as those of the Thai government. The WAP strategy is to develop close partnerships with local and national Thai government agencies as well as communities in order to jointly develop plans to better assist other countries in the region to improve the management of wetlands and aquatic resources. Significantly, WAP aims to link its program in Thailand with the developing Thai Aid program and assist national and local government agencies in Thailand to improve the strategies and mechanism used to implement Thailand’s donor program in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Activity areas include:
Wetland management cases studies and lessons learned
Facilitating integrated wetlands planning and piloting
Dialogue Forum and Information Centers for Local Management of Wetlands and River Basins
Regional collaboration on vocational training for wetlands and aquatic resources management
Co-management of community groups
Activities in Thailand
- Wetland management cases studies and lessons learned
- Facilitating integrated wetlands planning and piloting
- Dialogue Forum and Information Centers for Local Management of Wetlands and River Basins
- Regional collaboration on vocational training for wetlands and aquatic resources management
- Co-management of community groups