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Socio-Political Transformation After the 2011 Floods in Thailand

  • Ladawan Khaikham
  • Helen James
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  • 329 Downloads

Abstract

In 2011, Thailand experienced the worst flood crisis in 50 years. The flood caused the nation THB1.4 trillion (USD 42 billion) in economic losses and THB1.5 trillion (USD 45 billion) in rehabilitation and reconstruction costs. This chapter focuses on social and political adaptation and transformation after the flood event. The first part discusses Mark Pelling’s (2011) framework ‘adaptation as transformation’. The second part sets out the reasons why the flood in 2011 was so damaging economically and politically. In the third part, this chapter applies Pelling’s framework to social learning and socio-political transformation after the flood. This chapter asks if Thai society was transformed by the flood, if the Yingluck Shinawatra government (2011–2014) learned from its mistakes and if it initiated the establishment of institutions relating to natural disaster management. The Thai Military played a significant role in the flood relief programme. Ironically, the idea of sustainable development in managing natural disasters was interrupted by the coup in 2014. The military government paid no attention to floods but focused only on drought in agricultural areas during the dry season. On the other hand, Thai communities relied heavily on social capital for adaptation and utilised the new online technology to help cope with floods. This chapter concludes that this event transformed Thai society from the social perspective but not the political one. Transformative adaptation can be observed as Thai local villagers rely deeply on social capital in their local communities and informative learning via online technology to adapt to the flood. In contrast, the Thai government did not learn from its mistakes as the political change did not occur constructively. Floods still occurred nationwide, whilst the government was overwhelmed with the preparations for the royal cremation ceremony for King Rama IX (1927–2016) and underestimated the impact of the monsoon season in 2017.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ladawan Khaikham
    • 1
  • Helen James
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Faculty of Social SciencesKasetsart UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia PacificAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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