Natural Disasters

Thailand’s new early warning technology to protect 70 million from disasters

The country suffered economic loss due to natural disasters from 2009-2018 to the tune of $46,055,161  

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 05 January 2022

A new early warning and hazard monitoring system, ThaiAWARE, will provide advanced decision support capabilities to Thailand’s disaster managers, protecting the country’s 70 million residents from natural disasters.

The Thailand government and Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) have operationalised this system, launched in a virtual ceremony December 15, 2021. It was Pacific Disaster Center’s first customised, remote deployment of DisasterAWARE in Asia and only the second worldwide.

Thailand is prone to natural disasters, such as floods, droughts and tropical storms.

The country suffered an economic loss to the tune of $46,055,161 due to natural disasters from 2009-2018.

The National Disaster Relief Centre has indicated that flood disasters in Thailand between 1989 and 2018 caused more than B160.8 billion ($5.1 billion) in damage to the economy. The 2011 floods accrued economic damage of more than B23 billion ($0.7 billion) alone.

Thailand’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DDPM) reported that flooding affected 229,220 households across 6,827 villages in 193 districts of 31 provinces, as of September 30, 2021.

According to the Thailand Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, 32 of the country’s 76 provinces have been affected by flooding in October, 2021. In late September and early October, tropical storm Dianmu inundated the region, leading to flash flooding.

Between September 27 and October 19, 2021, more than 13,600 square kilometres of the country were inundated and an estimated 1.3 million people were affected by flooding, according to the Thailand Flood Monitoring Dashboard.

The affected provinces include Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi, Phatthalung and Songkhla. DDPM reported that a total of 21,109 households (an estimated 105,545 people) were impacted. No fatalities were reported. 

The National Disaster Relief Centre indicated that drought events in Thailand between 1989 and 2017 caused more than B19.1 billion ($0.6 billion) of damage to the nationwide economy, and economic damage as a result of drought amounts to nearly B0.6 billion ($20 million) every year on average.

The National Disaster Relief Centre has indicated that storm events in Thailand between 1989 and 2018 caused more than B5.78 billion ($0.18 billion) (DDPM, 2019) of damage to the country’s economy.

Thailand incurs nearly B0.2 billion ($6 million) of economic damage from storms every year (on average), while they continue to be highly volatile due to the effects of climate change.

In Thailand, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act, 2007, has served as the principal legal mechanism for disaster risk management practices, coupled with an application of other disaster risk management-related laws, regulations, notifications and directives.

Harlan Hale, regional advisor, United States Agency for International Development Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, said:

Early warning is a really important function and one that has been proven to save lives and reduce loss from disasters.

Chris Chiesa, deputy executive director, Pacific Disaster Center, said:

The system includes the new early warning and multi-hazard monitoring technologies offered in DisasterAWARE, as well as critical predictive hazard impact analysis tools and hundreds of new national data layers to support effective preparedness and response.

ThaiAWARE supplies decision-makers with real-time, dynamic information from both international and national sources and offers the world’s most advanced multi-hazard exposure modeling capabilities in a single platform.

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