September 26, 2012 00:00 By THE NATION 2,507 Viewed
A new initiative to boost the country’s disaster management capacity was launched yesterday by the government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The move aims to help the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) respond to large-scale floods and other natural disasters. It follows the huge floods last year that affected 11 million people in 64 provinces.
Department chief Wiboon Sanguanpong said: “Disaster severity is increasing and is impacting Thailand to a much greater extent. The partnership is a chance to enhance the level of knowledge and disaster management capacity here to international standards.
“DDPM staff need new knowledge and skills to deal with the increasing complexity.”
The three-year initiative will strengthen DDPM capacity to adapt to disasters by boosting the capacity of both the department and related ministries to be better prepared to address climate change and environmental security issues.
The US$1.2 million (Bt37 million) initiative’s goal is to reduce the vulnerability of millions of people affected in 2011 to future flooding.
In assessing Thailand’s flood response, the UNDP and DDPM discovered a number of challenges to disaster management systems. Few anticipated a flood as big as the one in 2011, so existing policies had limited capacity to assist in a range of rescue and recovery work. Post-disaster assessments could have been better conducted to understand recovery needs.
UNDP has been working with the government for about a year with experts at DDPM to give on-the-spot advice.
Luc Stevens, the UNDP representative in Thailand, said: “This is a partnership as much as it is a project signing. The DDPM has been involved from the project’s conception and their plans for implementation.”
Thailand ranks as the seventh most flood-prone country in the world. By 2030, climate change is projected to place Thailand as the fourth most affected country.