Podcast – Flood risks and local participation with Dr. Yanyong Inmuong

This podcast explores how flood risks can be managed better if local communities are involved in the planning and design of flood protection and management measures especially for early warning systems.

Rajesh Daniel By Rajesh Daniel - May 3, 2023

For this podcast episode, we talked with Dr. Yanyong Inmuong, Director of GMS Research Center for Environment and Sustainability, Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies, Mahasarakham University, Thailand. Dr. Yanyong is working with local communities in flood risk management in northeast Thailand. He shares his perspectives on how local communities can be brought into official flood management design and planning in particular, on flood preparedness and early warning systems.

In September 2022, incessant rains resulted in Khon Kaen province in northeast Thailand suffering one of the worst flooding episodes in its history.  As the Chi River overflowed its banks, more than 14 districts including towns and rural fields were inundated by up to four feet of water.  

According to Dr. Yanyong, northeast Thailand is always hit by frequent tropical storms, a situation that has now worsened due to climate change.

Dr. Yanyong has been working closely with both state officials and local communities to explore how flood risks can be alleviated, and, how local communities can be involved in designing and planning for flood risk management and flood prevention.

In this podcast, he describes his work in Baan Phai district in Khon Kaen where state officials from the Regional Office of Water Resources as well as Baan Phai district government are working with local communities on participatory ways to prepare and cope with floods.

Dr. Yanyong says this work was initially not easy as state officials prefer to have a centralized approach to flood management. “Typically, in Thailand the flood mitigation and prevention policy and plan are formulated by the central authorities. This is sent to the regional offices and the provincial government. It is a top-down policy planning and where the local community is not usually included in the policy design or implementation.

“That means implementation of flood preparedness early warning systems, evacuation, or even rehabilitation activities are mainly done by the government authority. There is no space or room or any recommendation and participation from local community.”

He elaborates in the podcast on how they try to integrate local community ideas into the flood risk planning and early warning systems.

“Our aim is to develop a participatory approach to work with a range of stakeholders, particularly with vulnerable communities and concerned government officials to explore the best way to deliver and develop a plan of action on flood preparedness and early warning system. We try to design a system that is most suitable for local people to take action in coping with the flood."

Learning from the local communities' experiences in coping with floods is a crucial part of this work.

“We really focus on the learning activities. We bring local communities together and let them share their experiences during the flood. What do they do with their families, their property, and household items, how do they try to escape or help relatives and family members.

“We show them good examples of the flood early warning system. We let them talk and explain their views on their experiences and actions during heavy floods. We draw a flood risk map to show the risk area and inflow and outflow of water.

“These were done in five communities that we then proposed to the local government and authority for further policy and planning development.”

He added that “the eventual goal is to have in our Mekong Region, and in Thailand in particular, a  village or community flood risks management plan” that is designed specifically to respond to the needs of the local communities in each area.


Episode host: Rajesh Daniel
Sound editing: Rajesh Daniel and Variya Plungwatana
Series producers: Rajesh Daniel and Variya Plungwatana

Download the transcript using the link below. Links for additional resources and reading are also included in the transcript. 

Listen to this episode on available channels:

Tags: risk, floods

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