On the 13 of December 2012, IUCN and the Mekong Water Dialogues financially and technically supported the first Community Water Dialogues (CWD) in Ranong Province, Thailand. The CWD in Ranong focused on the impacts of dredging on local communities and environment.
The CWD was attended by 60 community members, CSOs, NGOs and local, provincial and national government. The CWD provided information on dredging, legislative options to protect the local environment and best practice flood mitigation activities. Most importantly, CWD provided a platform to discuss the current environmental issues in Ranong and develop an agreed way to address these issues.
In Ranong Province and across Thailand dredging is used to mitigate floods by removing vegetation and sedimentation to increase the capacity of rivers and canals. Unfortunately, in many cases dredging has the opposite affect and leaves many communities without livelihoods, little food security and still having to deal with frequent and destructive flooding. To further complicate the problem, dredging is often conducted with little or no community consultation and leaves the communities to deal with the long lasting impacts of dredging.
The CWD was very successful and there were a number of actions agreed to by the participations. Most importantly all of the CWD participants agreed that dredging is harmful to the environment, natural capital, food security and livelihoods and made a formal request to the government to stops adhoc dredging that has not undergone the proper planning or community consultation. The group also requested that IUCN, the Human Rights Commission and the Senate sub-committee on Water Resources help to ensure that this formal request is heard by the National Government.
Commitments were also made at the local level with the local government committing to hold regular meetings with relevant actors to develop a Ranong Strategic Plan on Land use and Water. The Strategic Plan will give long, medium and short term guidance to agencies and communities working on environment and land use and ensure that any future development is in line with the plans goals and objective.
By Teigan Allen