The Political Ecology of Urban Flooding in Thailand: A Three City Analysis

Project: Research

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This research asks how state institutions and socioeconomic processes create, distribute, and reduce vulnerability of the poor to urban flooding in Thailand. Answering this question requires three sub-questions: (1) How vulnerable to floods are Thailand’s urban poor? (2) What is the current governance of floods at multiple scales—national, provincial, and local? (3) What actions are currently occurring to improve flood governance and justice for the poor? I seek to answer these questions by studying the physical structure of urbanization and the development of water infrastructure, and governance of both land and water in cities and surrounding basins. Concurrently, I will analyse the discourses of key actors, including politicians and state officials at the national, provincial and local levels, as well as those of residents of communities who are affected by flooding. Given the significant role of state institutions in influencing these residents’ vulnerability, this research focuses on governance processes and the power relations driving them and the responses to these processes and power relations. My theoretical framework will draw upon both urban political ecology, which suggests the crucial role played by economic and political power in influencing vulnerability to floods, and environmental justice, which envisages people’s vulnerability as an issue of justice and these people as citizens who have rights which they can claim and which the state should protect.In the research, I plan to use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the social, environmental, political and economic factors that affect the production of vulnerability to flooding in three cities. The three research sites are Bangkok, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Khon Kaen. All three cities have experienced heavy flooding recently, including this year, and therefore this research is of high relevance. I have selected Bangkok because of its importance to the entire country. I selected the other two cities because they are both rapidly-growing secondary cities. Secondary cities are growing quicker both economically and in terms of population but researchers and policymakers have devoted less attention to them than large and mega cities. Further, conducting a comparative study will enable me to see the effects of different variables on urban flooding, including city size, centre versus the periphery in terms of resource allocation, local government capacity, and local community responses.


Project number7005137
Effective start/end date1/09/18 → …