Flood and Drought Management Tools

A dialogue on drought management in Thailand and Brazil

12 December 2015 | Blog

Vitor Vieira Vasconcelos1, Sucharit Koontanakulvong2, Paulo Pereira Martins Junior3 and Renato Moreira Hadad4

Imagine that a critical drought happens in your country and there is no water for all users. What should be done? Thailand and Brazil, as well as many developing countries, adapted a structure that was first established by European countries, through a policy discourse or regulation on drought management based on a hierarchy of water use priorities (for example: human drinking, animal drinking, environmental flows, agriculture, industry and urban uses, etc.). Furthermore, these priority scales have been widely used in decision support systems for drought management.

However, in our recently published paper (Vasconcelos et al., 2015), we argue that these priority schemes have not been successfully implemented in drought management of Thailand and Brazil. One reason is that they do not always take into account the economic effects of such prioritization. For example, stopping a large industrial park may turn a drought crisis into an economic collapse. Therefore, drought management supports tools that help to evaluate the net economic effects of each allocation choice could be an important asset for decision makers.

Another difficulty for these prioritization schemes is that, for developing countries such as Thailand and Brazil, the government structure is not enough to effectively enforce the prioritization decisions on the water users. On the other hand, there is a plenty of interesting experiences in Thailand and Brazil on how drought conflicts were addressed using collective negotiation approaches. These negotiations proved to be more effective on engaging water users and have explored more efficiently the adaptive capabilities of each water use sector. In our paper, we discussed many of these Thai and Brazilian experiences of negotiated water allocation on different spatial and temporal scales.

Therefore, we proposed that clearly recognizing these negotiated approaches as a tool in water policies and laws would empower its use, bringing higher transparency to the negotiations and better stability for its agreements. Current discussions on the draft of Thailand’s new water law and on the revision of water laws in Brazil are interesting opportunities to include collective negotiation schemes for drought management.


Vasconcelos, V.V.; Koontanakulvong, S.; Martins Junior, P.P.; Hadad, R.M. 2015. Public Policies for Negotiated Water Allocation: a dialogue between Thailand and Brazil. Water Policy, 17(5):887–901, doi:10.2166/wp.2015.157. Available at: http://www.iwaponline.com/wp/01705/wp017050887.htm (English), and http://www.iwaponline.com/wp/017/157.pdf (Portuguese and Thai).

1 Post-Doctoral Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute-Asia Centre. CAPES and CNPq scholarship.

2 Head of Water Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University

3 Professor at Geology Department, Federal University of Ouro Preto. Researcher at IGTEC – Institute of Geoinformation and Technology