Water For Agriculture, Thailand

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The Experience at a Glance

Project Title

Water For Agriculture, Thailand


While Thailand possesses abundant water resources, growing demand coupled with pollution puts an increasing pressure on these resources. For many rural communities, cultivation has been the main source of livelihood and survival. Although the significant expansion of agriculture has contributed to ensuring food security and reducing poverty in Thailand, it has caused significant deforestation and widespread watershed degredation. While industry has become the major source of

GDP, toxic wastes have polluted surface and groundwater supplies and damaged aquatic ecosystems. As a country that has achieved most of the MDGs, effective systems for conserving and protecting natural resources have become central to national development projects.


Implementing Agency(ies)





The Challenge

Despite the development of water supply and sanitation infrastructures, morbidity rates remain high due to the high bacterial contamination of water. The Bureau of Epidemiology (2001) found that acute diarrhoea and food poisoning are still increasing, whereas between 1983 and 2001, the incidences of enteric fevers, dysentery and helminthes decreased. The main reasons for increasing diarrhoea and food poisoning are considered to be unhygienic food handling and a lack of awareness concerning the protection of water resources. Also alarming is the increasing number of diseases caused by chemical and toxic substances contaminating water resources. These contaminants are of domestic, industrial and agricultural origin. For example, lead and tin poisoning has been linked to improper mining practices, and high concentrations of fluoride in groundwater resources have also caused dental problems.

Management conflicts in local authority wastewater treatment systems often result in ineffective and non-continuous performance, which causes high bacterial contamination of receiving water bodies. The major obstacles preventing effective functioning of wastewater treatment facilities are insufficient financing for system operation and a lack of regular maintenance.

Moreover, the efforts of individual ministries responsible for different sectors are isolated and not well-coordinated. This lack of coordination renders IWRMimplementation difficult, in addition to impeding the Government in reaching its objectives in water management. Furthermore, the main source of water in industry is aquifers. However, over-utilization of these water resources, especially around Bangkok region, has caused serious land subsidence. Social and economic damage from floods present further problems. In 1995, a flood in the Chao Phraya River basin caused about US $290,000 in damage; the costliest in the last seventeen years.

The Solution

Lessons Learned

Opinions & Testimonies

Conclusions & Recommendations

Overall, Thailand has made good progress towards achieving several of the MDGs, including those related to water. For example, access to safe water and basic sanitation is above 90 percent in both rural and urban areas. The current challenge is to address the opportunity disparities that exist between different regions.

See also

External Resources

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