The meeting was organised by the Prince of Songkhla University’s Phuket Campus and chaired by its director, Wiroj Putong.
It also attracted representatives of central government agencies and of various municipal organisations on the island, along with NGOs, and local business people and citizens.
The main points for discussion included creating an advance warning system; preparing an emergency management capability; adding to the information data-base on flood-related dangers; risk evaluation; maintenance of infrastructure, especially drains; and areas where investment in construction is needed.
Other items entering into consideration were: providing public health services and making necessary improvements to these services; safeguarding schools; protecting facilities for maintenance of public hygiene; ensuring against dangerous environmental damage; dealing with changes in weather patterns; and ensuring the overall system allows everyone to understand their roles and responsibilities.
Prof Wiroj noted that the meeting resulted from the heavy flooding on August 22 that struck Phuket Town especially hard. “It prompted a great deal of interest among municipal officers in how to deal with flooding,” he said.
“The Thai Foundation Institute of the Environment undertook an evaluation study of risk areas for the city, and the university agreed to be responsible for two areas of investigation – drainage management and solving the problem of flooding.”
He said that 400 people affected by the flooding were surveyed before the meeting. “[They] said that the flooding resulted from quite heavy rains which overwhelmed the capacity of the drainage system.
“Other factors, they said, included the high tide at that time and failure to clean the klongs.
“Ninety six per cent of respondents said they were not warned of impending danger by the relevant agencies, and the majority – about 57 per cent – said they had had no experience of flooding before and were therefore did not know how to cope with it.”
Prof Wiroj said cooperation between relevant agencies and an overall strategic plan were necessary.
The strategic plan, he said, “will be a tool used to build readiness and co-operation, whether among civil servants, elected local government bodies, or interested individuals.”
He added that participants were excited at the prospect of creating methods for dealing with natural disasters, and so hit upon the issue of flooding as an area of study.
The causes most often adduced for flooding in Phuket include reduction in the number, or diversion of natural watercourses; construction projects on hillsides or in flood-plains; and road-building.
– Source: Manager Online