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Ecosystem-based flood and drought management in river basins

GIZ Thailand, 2015
Published: 22 November 2016
Last edited: 28 March 2019
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Technical and capacity development measures are applied in watersheds threatened by climate change. Relevant professionals are supported in vulnerability assessments. Inclusion of population is ensured through the involvement in stakeholder platforms. Innovative EbA approaches like the “living weir” approach are based on local knowledge and initiatives and are implemented for demonstration purposes. Innovative technical methods, such as drones, were used to evaluate and monitor the project area before, during and after the activities. This approach recently received the International Drone Pioneer Award 2017 for visionary drone applications with global impact. Based on the experiences, EbA approaches are fed into the national level and education format.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
River, stream
Disaster risk reduction
Erosion prevention
Flood management
Traditional knowledge
Water provision and management
Watershed management
Climate Challenges (Hazards)
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecological Challenges
Ecosystem loss
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Economic Challenges
Lack of technical capacity
Social Challenges
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030


Khon Kaen Province de Khon Kaen Thailand | Huai Sai Bat River Basin in Khon Kaen Province, Tha Di and Lam Pha Chi River Basins in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province


  • Increasing floods and droughts cause damage and water scarcity.
  • Land use activities in river basins (rice, rubber, sugar cane) support land degradation causing soil and river bank erosion, sedimentation of grey infrastructure, increased risk of landslides, loss of biodiversity and water retention capacity.
  • Local water management institutions lack technical capacity and concepts to address such extreme events.
  • The population faces economic losses due to crop failure and loss of production in the fisheries sector. They are lacking water availability during dry season and face damages to their homes and fields in the rainy season.
  • Policy conflicts between different sectors and the absence of formal rules for urban planning are exacerbating the challenges.


The rural population in the river basins benefits from the implementation of flood and drought management measures by reduced vulnerability towards flood and drought impacts.

How do the building blocks interact?

Assessing vulnerabilities and identifying different EbA measures to tackle the vulnerabilities (building block 1) is a precondition for implementing the most feasible EbA measure, for example, living weirs (building block 2). This measure utilizes local knowledge (building block 3) in combination with state of the art adaptation approaches. Knowledge exchange between decision makers and practitioners (building block 4) together with capacity building in water monitoring, modeling and economic valuation methods (building block 5) allows a further upscaling of the approach.


1) Environmental

- Damages from floods and droughts to local communities, economy and ecology are reduced.

- Sediments and nutrients are kept in agricultural relevant areas.

- Water quality is improved.

- Decentral and new habitats function as valuable biodiversity conservation areas, especially during dry season.


2) Social

- Communities are more resilient to flashfloods during the rainy season. 

- The water from floods, which is retained in the landscape, increases water storage for consumption and irrigation during the dry season.

- More water can be provided to more people and/or for more irrigated land.

- between 780 more people in year and up to 15.000 more people in year 25.

- 1,500 people have been reached directly and 4,500 indirectly by awareness raising and training, 530 officers have been trained in economic evaluation of EbA options.


3) Policies

- DWR and RID as the main warer organizations are prioritizing EbA solutions in their policies and plans with an DWR investment of 535,000 EUR and RID investment of 20 million EUR.

- The current government the National Council of Peace and Order announced upstream forest rehabilitation projects (about 7.520 ha) and soil erosion prevention projects (Vetiver grass will be planted on 1.080 km2)

- Forest rehabilitation and vetiver grass planting will absorb up to 84.000 tons of CO2 per year.


GIZ Thailand, 2015

Farmer Wanchart Samdang from Nakhon Si Thammarat like most farmers in South Thailand grows little rice but is specialized in vegetables and fruit cultivation, especially Durian and Mangosteen fruits. Both sell well at local markets. However irrigation is a problem and at the end of the dry season, water is scarce. His reservoir fills up during the rainy season and the water irrigates the fruit trees. During the dry season he has to tap river water, pumping it to the fruit orchards. Since water availability is a common challenge in this area, the farmers of the adjacent villages have joined forces. With help from the government and supported by local universities and GIZ they are building a living weir, slowing the river down. Before they have tried to build with cement but this is “dead” material which gets destroyed by the water and is expensive to build and maintain. That’s why the farmers used bamboo and other natural materials in combination with river vegetation like trees and shrubs, stabilizing the riverbank. They have created a “living weir” which can withstand floods, slows the river down, so more water trickles into the surrounding nature. The local community is strengthened by the joint work. Every one participates and water shortage is rarely a problem. Besides, the yield of fruit trees has increased, allowing Mr Samdang to earn more money with a sustainable irrigation method.

Contributed by

Suthira Thongkao Walailak University

Other contributors

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)