Special Report: Irrigation and water resource management reform


Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stressed the need to reform the country’s irrigation and water resource management throughout the entire system.

During his televised national address in the program “Return Happiness to the People,” the Prime Minister said that the problem of water management has been accumulating for a long time and previous governments had spent a great amount of money to deal with this problem.

He pointed out that all water management-related projects must be integrated, so that flood and drought problems would be tackled more effectively. There are currently more than 30 million farmers in Thailand. Out of this number, about 20 million are in the irrigation system, covering an area of 29 million rai (11 million acres). The area is considered quite low.

The Prime Minister said that the Government intended to expand the area to cover 50 or 60 million rai (20-24 million acres) by 2018-2019. As for the period from 2015 to 2016, the Government aims to increase the irrigation area to cover 30 million rai (12 million acres). Apart from expanding the irrigation area, the Government will dig more ponds and build more reservoirs to provide additional water supplies that farmers can use to grow crops.

Other tasks include flood prevention and water storage improvement to prevent water shortages. As for efforts to ease water shortages for consumption, the Government is accelerating waterworks expansion, and it expects that by 2019, all villages in Thailand will have their own waterworks systems.

Prime Minister Prayut cited water resource management as an important issue, as Thailand is an agricultural country. He said that a committee of the National Council for Peace and Order had submitted a water resource management plan to the Cabinet for approval. The plan would be implemented continuously, depending on budget availability. The Prime Minister outlined major projects to be implemented in the next 10 years to deal with this issue.

For instance, in order to ease water shortages for agriculture, the Government will enhance the efficiency of the existing irrigation scheme, develop new water sources, and rehabilitate natural waterways to increase water volume. As for the industrial sector, water networks in eastern Thailand will be developed.

In 2015, the Government will support water source development in special economic zones in Mae Sot district, Tak province, Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo province, and Sadao district in Songkhla province. It will also develop water sources to support the service and tourism sector on Ko Chang in Trat and Ko Pha-ngan in Surat Thani in 2016.

Other projects include the development of waterworks in 7,490 villages, flood prevention in urban areas, improvement of water quality in 22 river basins, rehabilitation of watershed areas and prevention of soil erosion and water management in a systematic manner.