Natural disasters, especially floods, are now taking place more often all over the world. As a result of severe floods in Thailand in 2011, various communities are seeking sustainable ways to ease and prevent flood disasters in a systematic manner to mitigate impacts.
The Nong Bua Subdistrict Municipality in Mueang district, Kanchanaburi province, is an area that has frequently faced flashfloods caused by heavy rains during the rainy season. In an effort to cope with the problem, the municipality has come up with an operation plan to deal with the problem and evacuate local people in vulnerable areas in case of emergency. It is recognized as a model for effective community management in Thailand.
Located along the Khwae Yai river basin, the Nong Bua Subdistrict Municipality covers an area of 8.5 square kilometers and consists of four villages. About 80 percent of local residents are engaged in agriculture, which involves mainly rice, sugar cane, tobacco, maize, and fruit.
The operation plan, drawn up by this municipality, is intended to offer guidelines for disaster mitigation by local organizations, at community, district, and provincial levels. The guidelines seek to give warnings to local residents and carry out quick evacuation to save people’s lives and property in case of flashfloods.
When the Governor of Kanchanaburi gives a disaster warning, the Mayor of Nong Bua Subdistrict Municipality will disseminate information about the warning through broadcasting towers in various villages under its supervision. The information will also be sent through mobile phones to local government offices, schools, hotels, local leaders, abbots, and other networks. A mobile unit will be sent to vulnerable areas to warn the people, as well.
The next step is that selected persons will be responsible for driving people from the risk areas to meeting points. Emphasis is placed on people with disabilities, older persons, and children, who spend much of their time at home. A relief operation center will be set up at a military unit, and accommodation, food, drinking water, and medical services will be provided by government agencies, foundations, and private organizations.
The Nong Bua Subdistrict Municipality holds a meeting once a month to improve the operation plan on evacuation, report the water situation, and work out a public relations plan, so that people in other areas and tourists will have better understanding about Nong Bua community management and will not panic when hazards occur.
Evacuation drills are held on a regular basis, with local residents participating in their community management. In times of crisis, local residents have proven to be able to cope with the situation effectively. The Nong Bua Subdistrict Municipality has also introduced the Nong Bua model to other communities, so that they may apply it to their own vulnerable areas to save people from flashfloods.