Securing fisher-folk livelihoods through climate risk management in Thailand
19 September 2011 | Article
Sustainable Development Foundation, IUCN’s partner in Thailand under the Building Coastal Resilience project, is adopting a climate risk management approach to secure fisher-folk livelihoods by strengthening the management of marine and coastal resources.
Since January 2011, SDF has been working to establish target sites and identify priority issues in the two coastal provinces of Trat and Chantaburi, where the BCR project will be implemented in Thailand. Consultations with local communities and other local stakeholders have led to the establishment of three target sites: Mai Root and Laem Klat sub-districts in Trat province, Bang Chan and Nong Chim sub-districts in Chantaburi province, and Sanam Chai, Krachae and Chang Kham sub-districts also in Chantaburi province.
Jonathan Shott, Project Manager and Disaster Management Consultant at SDF, explains, “We will focus, at least initially, on working together with small-scale fisher-folk communities. Their lives and livelihoods are closely linked to the condition of marine and coastal resources, so we expect them to be particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change. In fact, local fisher-folk communities are already adapting to a range of both natural and human-induced changes.”
Priority issues identified in the target sites include the degradation of marine and coastal resources, ineffective management controls for both small-scale and commercial fishery, a need to improve conservation measures for vulnerable species such as dolphins and sea turtles, a need to strengthen collaborative, area-based management approaches and severe coastal erosion. All of these are existing issues, currently having an impact in the established target sites today. The challenge will be to understand how climate change impacts will exacerbate or complicate these existing issues. The project will adopt a climate risk management approach, focusing on ‘no-regrets’ adaptation strategies.
Jonathan elaborates, “We will need to identify interventions which bring tangible benefits for both local fisher-folk communities and marine and coastal ecosystems in the short term, but which remain appropriate whatever the impacts of climate change turn out to be in the long term. Promoting the sustainable management and strategic rehabilitation of natural resources will not only make local ecosystems more resilient to climate change, but will also improve the food and livelihood security of local communities.”
SDF has already begun supporting a select number of early interventions. These cover themes including community crab aquaculture, participatory mangrove management, zoning and regulation of fisheries and strengthening and formalizing local small-scale fisher-folk groups. Even though further work is required to fully understand all the issues in the established target sites, particularly with respect to the potential impacts of climate change, early interventions help develop working relationships between stakeholders and actors and provide the project with important early momentum.
However, in order to develop a more comprehensive picture of existing issues and potential solutions in the established target sites, and to fully understand the potential climate change impacts, the project will be carrying out a series of vulnerability and capacity assessments from 28 September 2011 to 6 October 2011 in Mai Root and Laem Klat sub-districts in Trat province and Bang Chan and Nong Chim sub-districts in Chantaburi province.
Ravadee Prasertcharoensuk, Director, SDF
Jonathan Shott, Project Management and Disaster Management Consultant, SDF