Drought Solution by Innovation of Clay Core Weir Beneath Sandbed
Royal Irrigation Department

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Mae Raka Canal Basin is 6th tributary of 25 major basins in Thailand with the catchment area of approximately 217,195 acres. With the length of about 89 km long, Klong Mae Raka is the major tributary nourishing 12,121 people of 3,113 households in 21 villages of 6 sub districts. Topography of Mae Raka Canal Basin is not suitable for the development of large scale water resources for domestic consumption, agriculture and livestock in the basin sufficiently. Up to present, water resources can be stored only 5.11 million m3, whereas the requirement is up to 23.71 million m3. Although the government has developed several small scale water resources, e.g. reservoir, pond, dredging of the retention sources, they still are not able to cover the areas thoroughly. This is because small scale water resources project takes about 2-3 years for implementation and each year only 1-2 plans of each province would be approved for budget. From this cause, the solution is delayed and it fails to meet the people’s requirement in due time. Royal Irrigation Department is the main agency responsible for water resources in Thailand and there are also more than 10 agencies taking care of water resources provision. In the past, each agency emphasizes on the solution of urgent problems occurring year by year. Thus, redundant plans, acceleration of water source dredging, lack of local people participation and project’s recognition happens. Dredging the Mae Raka Canal for the purpose of water retention sources becomes the causes of severe affects: in the dry season, water in the Mae Raka Canal will evaporate and dry rapidly causing dryness to villagers’ shallow wells, driven wells located at the rim of canal, incapability to pump water for use, leading to water shortage problem; during the wet season, the river bank is eroded severely, reflecting to serious damage affect to the ecology system of two banks of Mae Raka Canal, damage of villagers’ houses and land, making change to their livelihood. Drought causes effects to farmers, villagers and community, shortage of water for consumption, and good quality of water for various activities. Drought affects to life quality and livelihood of about 1,321 people of 387 households. Farmer group of 2,468 households got problems during erratic rainfall period, cultivated area of about 14,032 acres is vulnerable to water shortage. In the dry season, the cultivation cannot be done because of no capital water. More than 1,457 households who raise cows with the total of over 15,742 cows face shortage of water and food. Working aged people of about 538 people of 19 villages who live in the basin area are unemployed; they have no income, then leave their families and elders for other jobs outside the area. This causes family problem, children expose to risk of family problem, lack of education and relate to drug addiction. Therefore, it is urgent to solve the problem of water for domestic use and agriculture, main task before the drought is increasingly severe.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
From the global climate change, the natural disaster is severely occurred in every region including Thailand. Tak is one of the provinces with high temperature in the dry season, up to 43 degree Celsius in April. Several water sources will dry rapidly due to high temperature from the sunlight and hot airflow, causing rapid evaporation. Drought disaster threatened over 6 months, leading to water shortage for domestic consumption and agriculture in the community. Drought solution by the government including project consideration, survey, design and construction lasts over 3 years, limited budget reflects only 1-2 projects getting approval each year. This causes water shortage problem accumulated in the area and becomes the social problem. In 2006, Mr. Dusit Sangsukon, Chief of Engineering Branch, Tak Provincial Irrigation Office, Royal Irrigation Department has conducted the study of geological data in the entire Mae Raka Canal, community life style, and former solutions under local wisdom that struggled for water by dredging down in the Mae Raka Canal consisting of the deep sand, laying down concrete cement pipes, shutting the cover, drilling a hole, connecting the water pumping pipe, and installing the pumps to take water for domestic consumption. This indicates the local wisdom in protecting water from evaporation. From the study of this wisdom, it is an origin of the concept for retaining water and increasing water level beneath sandbed for water logging in the Mae Raka Canal for the longest period before the end of the dry season. Procedures of the solution began in 2007, from the data collection and basic problems, e.g. geological condition, soil horizon data, streambed slope, rainfall, runoff, existing water resources, urgent problems; study of knowledge in the community, livelihood, environment, community study centers, and fault of former development of government sector, for improvement. After that the problem analysis is undertaken for making decision of alternatives for utmost effectiveness and benefit to the community, solving problem in rapidness, meeting the requirement by using budget economically and worthily only less than 1/100 of ordinary budget/project, as well as extending the results to other areas by designing clay core weir beneath sandbed across the stream. Villagers along Mae Raka Canal Basin have agreed with Tak Provincial Irrigation Office about the concept on clay core weir beneath sandbed, for the purpose of retarding and retaining water sources in Mae Raka Canal. This method does not require a lot of budget and the local community itself can implement it. Moreover, the project is suitable for the geographical condition in the area without any environmental impact and helps maintain ecological system of the Basin. This benefits to the community and locality sustainably. Clay core weir beneath sandbed is the conservational water resources development for sloving shortage of water for domestic consumption and agriculture in Mae Raka Canal Basin, Pongdang Subdistrict, Muang District of Tak Province. The first priority is identification of targeted area lacking water; the second is the area that villagers do agriculture around both banks of canal for increasing water during erratic rainfall and agriculture in the dry season; the last is the extension to other areas outside the basin of which is similar topography and geology. Every sector in the province realizes the importance of solution, then encourages every stakeholder participate in management, integrates with the community and locality levels and government for achievement substantially. The Province supports the construction budget from 2007 on.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Drought solution in Mae Raka Canal Basin by innovation of clay core weir beneath sandbed is a new pattern of solution different from the original one in the past. This concepts initiates from the study and analysis of the area potential, weakness and limitation of water sources development until the achievement by engineering principle, technology on water sources development applying to community’s outstanding local wisdom. From the natural condition of Mae Raka Canal consisting of deep sandbed arising from long accumulation of sedimentation, the geological structure beneath the area is hard rock without water penetration. Hard rock bed in rows becomes the strong point for water retention and leak proof; sand in the canal helps protect the evaporation. Concept on water retention beneath sandbed in Mae Raka Canal for the longest period before the end of dry season is the process to increase water logging efficiency by using local material to reduce the evaporation rate and seepage. With the integration among natural surroundings, local wisdom and community livelihood, clay core weirs are constructed across the stream beneath sandbed intervals along the canal slope. This develops the original concept on surface retention to lateral thinking on beneath sandbed retention.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
From the basin potential of the Mae Raka Canal, in Tak Province by SWOT analysis, the weakness are incapability to develop to be large scale water source; shortage of capital water; highland with a long distance from the Bhumibol Dam which is a large scale dam; incapability to receive water from the Dam, pretty low average rainfall; no inflow in the dry season; full of sand sediment in the Mae Raka Canal. These cause critical drought. Then Tak Provincial Irrigation Office urgently proposed the solution project to Tak Province with the purposes of increase of water source for domestic consumption sufficiently; rehabilitation of water source condition for retaining water for agriculture and livestock, conservation of balanced environment and ecology. Therefore, the implementation strategy for achievement and optimum outcome is the project design to be the most compatibility with the community surroundings by using local material without impact on villagers’ livelihood, and low budget. Villagers can learn and implement it by themselves. This can be used as the prototype applying to extend to other areas. Strategies and methods to be practiced are as follows: Strategy for the designation of innovation pattern started in 2007 by collecting data and problems, urgent necessity to be solved; studying the geological condition, existing structures and other constructions, several local knowledge wisdom; meeting and discussion with community leaders, learned men for recommendation; learning the fault of the past projects for analyzing the problems so as to identify alternatives in accordance with the community’s livelihood; joining the integration with the ideas among leaders of localities, districts and communities; explaining and making understanding as well as exchanging experience for mutual solution without dispute. This comes to the new pattern of water retention, adapting the original surface retention to be a new pattern under the existing surroundings by retaining water beneath sandbed, designing the clay core weir to retard and retain water. Strategy for impulsion of innovation started in April 2007. After clear pattern is delivered with the locality’s acceptance. Tak Provincial Irrigation Office, community leaders and district authority proposed the government about the problems and solution of drought as the concept on clay core weir construction beneath sandbed in Mae Raka Canal, in order to stipulate in the policy and request the budget for implementation. With the integration of every sector of the government and local people representatives for preparing plans and projects; identification of the target area and urgent necessity in providing water for consumption, agriculture, and livestock; and planning to extend the project to the areas that characterizes similar topography and geology have been undertaken. Tak Province has support the plans and budget from May 2007 on under annual budget for implementation. Strategy for dissemination of innovation started in June 2009 including dissemination of knowledge, public relations and knowledge exchange, board and exhibition, lecture on the project of clay core weir beneath sandbed, dissemination of the work performance through various medias, such as newspapers, radio, television; prepare the work form further extension; support and promotion of the community to be learning sources so as to practice and extend it for solving in other areas.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Tak Provincial Irrigation Office (TPIO), RID has initiated and identified the project feature and design, drafted the plan with people forum and villagers community leaders and district-level authorities; prepared the action plan; stipulated the objectives, goals, and strategies of project implementation; proposed the urgent solution to the Province for the Provincial Committee so as to contain in the policy and support the budget. Tak Provincial Irrigation Office also gives technical and academic advice throughout the project commencement until the completion, prepares the work manual, document, publication, brochure, exhibition; and gives lectures on knowledge to the interested people in the province and country levels. Provincial Committee formulates the policy, supervises and approves the plans and budget as well as inspects and evaluates the disbursement; supports the manufacturing factors to farmers utilizing from water source. Provincial Governor's Office coordinates with other government agencies. Provincial Relation Office plays a role in public relations of the project via various medias, such as newspaper, radio, television. Tak Provincial Irrigation Office supports the information. District level Authority is responsible for preparation of the plan and project as the recommendation of Tak Provincial Irrigation Office in conformity with the community requirement; coordination with the local leaders to select the area to be constructed in priority for requesting budget to the Province; and supervision of the construction according to the plan schedule. Staff of Subdistrict Administrative Organization (SAO) and local leaders are responsible for determination of suitable site; coordination with villagers and related government agencies; preparation of plans and activities for enhancement of utilization of water source after project takeover from the government. Villagers in the area give the information about problems and local wisdom using for drought solution, and participates in construction by their labours.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Resources that used for drought solution through the innovation of clay core weir beneath sandbed are as follows: Budget is allocated from the budget of Tak Province development strategy. With low investment and budget facilitates the government to support and distribute the budget to the locality to meet the people’s requirement rapidly. From the past implementation since 2007, the government has supported the total budget of about 880,362 US$. The cost includes cost of labour and material. Most expenditure that is construction cost in case of labour using, the capital cost includes cost of labour and material. The wage is paid to the villagers who do construction work; this is to support the low-income people to gain more income from the project development in their locality about 70% of construction cost. For the material cost includes cost of clay and big rock about 30% of construction cost, most of the expenditure is material transportation cost. In case of construction in the large stream, heavy machines are deployed; the capital will include machinery cost about 70% of construction cost and the rest 30% will be the labour and material cost. Techniques comprises 2 sections: Engineering technique, Considering the site to be constructed, the speculators will have experience, knowledge and skill for identification of suitable weir location. This will save construction cost and can retain water efficiently. Officers of Tak Provincial Irrigation Office will give knowledge and recommendation. Another section is construction techniques which can be implemented in 2 methods: labour by villagers in the area for wages, suitable for the canal or stream of not over 15 m wide; machinery, suitable for canal or stream with the width of over 15 meter for accelerating the work completion. Human resource Officers of Tak Provincial Irrigation Office render the consultation on academic and technique matter. Staff of Province Office supervise the policy, budget administration, monitor and follow up. Staff of District Office supervise the work and take care of the project. Staff of Subdistrict Administrative Organization, local leaders and villagers in the area coordinate and select the appropriate site with the District Office, from the topography survey, selection of sites, design and cost estimation, request of budget approval, project construction and evaluation.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
From the project implementation during 2007-2012, 605 clay core weirs beneath sandbed have been constructed in the Mae Raka Canal Basin and extended to other areas, covering 2 districts, 15 subdistricts and 97 villages; beneficial area of 4,304 acres; 1,940 households. Solution of water shortage Villagers can pump water for domestic consumption throughout the year. The project provides raw water source for waterworks in the community of Pongdang Subdistrict, Muang District, Tak Province. Water from beneath sandbed sources will be taken to generate waterworks system for 11 villages of the total 14 villages, 954 households including 3,825 people. Farmers have water for agriculture during erratic rainfall. Moreover, in the dry season, household agriculture can be practiced throughout the year. Environment and ecology conservation Conservation of ecological balance for plants and animals in the area; retention of water in sandbed to nourish humidity around the area; stabilization and increase of water table to fill the wells around the area for longer period; forest restoration for humidity, fertility to the surrounding nature, and extending the afforestation on both banks of the stream. Socio-Economy Farmers do agriculture sustainably both in the wet and dry season. During erratic rainfall, water can be pumped to help the areas that lack of water. In the dry season, farmers have alternatives in growing field crop and low-water required vegetables. Moreover, villagers can manage water by themselves without depending on the government sector, making villagers better living, associate with different occupations in their village, such as cow raising group, fishery group, local handicraft and textile group, and local food group. Engineering It is the integration of academic principle and local wisdom, making the project development safety, in compatibility with the area circumstance and simple management. It is an alternative of small scale water management that does not affect the environment, and also be learning center, research and develop for further medium and large scale water resources development.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Monitoring and evaluating the project is carried out as the specified target and objectives. From the past project implementation, monitoring and evaluating system will be the supervision device for achievement, finding the faults for improvement and solution by hearing the recommendation, opinion of various agencies, stakeholders of every sector, local leaders, villagers and community leaders in the area, and surveying the villagers’ satisfaction on the project. From the satisfaction questionnaire of 300 villagers, 100% is satisfied with the government solution by constructing clay core weirs beneath sandbed; 96% is satisfied with the completed construction work while the rest 4% lives far from the project. In addition, Tak Provincial Irrigation Office has provided other channels for public hearing and recommendation from interested people via website and facebook for service development. So far as the project implementation, there is no negative information and recommendation. Besides, the monitoring system on budget disbursement of Provincial Committee is undertaken for transparency. Tak Provincial Irrigation Office also takes new knowledge and technology for data collection of weir location by Global Positioning System (GPS), records and collects data in Geographic Information System (GIS) for being database for analysis, monitoring the utility of the project and follows up the circumstance change for comparison between before and after the project implementation.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Firstly major problems and obstacles occur from the villagers’ familiarity about surface water in the ponds, swamps, or several water sources for domestic consumption and agriculture, of which is seen how much of water retained for use. In the other hand, water retained in the sandbed is unseen; water users must dig and take water to use by installing small pumps. Villagers are not familiar and confident with the project accomplishment. For solving problems, officers of TPIO give the suggestion, lectures on knowledge, prepare the manual for dissemination and admiration of people who succeed in water use from the completed project as the best practice example, cooperate with the government and private sectors to support the budget and capital with low interest from the village fund, for supporting the manufacturing factors to farmers under the government project. This helps the project be successful and popular as well as rapidly increased in number. Example of taking water to produce waterworks in the villages of Pongdang Subdistrict, Muang Tak District of Tak Province is 11 villages from 14 villages, and villagers of not less than 150 households have undertaken by themselves. Other problems arise from villagers’s lack of knowledge on maintenance. From the monitoring and evaluation, water erodes at the crest weir downstream during the flood season. Then officers of TPIO have given the recommendation and prepared manual for guidelines, transferred knowledge on simply methodical maintenance; only land leveling of eroded areas and sand compaction requires a short time to repair. Villagers can manage it themselves without budget and grow vetiver grass on both banks to prevent erosion in the flood period, and also quick growing crops on both banks above the clay core weir to increase the forest area and humidity, and conserve the environment in surrounding area.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Government sector can response the water requirement to the service receiver rapidly and sufficiently; it takes about 10 days/weir with the budget of 84 US$/meter of weir length. For the weir with 20 meter width of natural canal, the construction cost is about 1,680 US$, saving budget of over 100 times of ordinary project. This makes the government sector distribute the budget to the troubled area immediately and thoroughly. In the past, water sources development in the area had to wait for the small scale project of government which required at least 2-3 years for the project consideration, study, survey and design; investment cost/project was about 166,667-1,000,000 US$; low possibility of budget support. Therefore, in the past farmers and villagers faced the risk of water shortage both in the wet and the dry season. Some years, during the long erratic rainfall, drought becomes severe, being the burden of government sector to provide clean water to distribute for villagers. This innovation helps build confidence to the government’s solution. From the concept on retarding and retaining water beneath sandbed in the canals or streams that have no water in the dry season by constructing the clay core weirs across the stream, benefit from the project implementation is highly satisfied. Water table around the area is remarkably high. Water that retained in the sandbed permeates easily through the sand, making villagers can pump the water to use continuously; clean and good quality of water due to passing the filtration from blanket sand. Villagers who live near the Mae Raka Canal, have clean water for domestic consumption sufficiently all year. For the villagers who live far from the major community, obtain service from waterworks system of Subdistrict Authority Organization; this comes from the high level of groundwater which can produce waterworks. It is an alternative without any environmental impact; moreover, water beneath sandbed generates the humidity, benefits to animals, plants and conserves the ecological system. Farmers in the project area around the weir have constructed the pumping system in the area by themselves with the financial source from the village fund. They manage water by their groups in the neighbouring area, it reduces the budget and administration of government sector. Farmers can pump water for agriculture during the erratic rainfall, help reduce the damage to produce and increase the agricultural produce during the dry season, by growing upland crops, vegetables and integrated farming. For example of success, villagers of Ban Phrong Take no.9, Pongdang Subdistrict, Muang District, gain income from integrated farming averagely 11,667 US$/year and villagers of Ban Lansang no.4, Mae Tho Subdistrict, Muang District, earn income of about 8,500 US$/year from the integrated agriculture covering the area of 1.58 acre by growing grapes, fruits, and vegetables. Income of major agriculture is higher than the village’ criteria amounting about 4,936 US$. Investment in construction project is worthwhile, outstanding qualification and characteristics of clay core weir beneath sandbed are simple construction, uncomplicated construction procedure, local material utilization, time and budget saving, simple maintenance. Agencies at levels of district, subdistrict, village and community can be implemented by themselves with local villagers’ labour. If the maintenance is implemented regularly every year, the weir can be practicable for 15 years. This extends instantly over 600 projects in the area of Tak Province during 5 year period. Positive impact on social and community aspects in general, e.g. reduction of labour movement problem outside the area is measured from the villagers’ satisfaction. Farmers have alternatives in other occupation and income of water source beneath sandbed, better living quality, stable and sustainable occupation. Participation of government sector and people makes the implementation to achievement, villagers have good attitude to the government, it reduces the gap in activities between government and community. Participation in problem solution with the government in water resource provision generates harmony, learning society, strong society and reduces the hometown leaving for the capital or other provinces. Villagers are proud of their prototype of practical innovation and learning center and extending in water resource at the community level themselves.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Clay core weir project beneath sandbed is developed from the study integrating between engineering principle and local wisdom, then it is considered for the design appropriate to the circumstances, in accordance with the community living. Pattern of weir is not complicated, it is constructed by simple method with rapidity and time saving without the government budget as the large investment projects, budget saving of construction cost and it is worthwhile budget of investment. Villagers use their labour in construction for promoting their income. Pattern of the weir does not cause effect during the flood period; it is useful to the environment. After the construction completion, villagers will join to maintain it and manage water by themselves. After the project transfer from the government, it builds strength and unity of community, and eventually becomes learning society and stable and sustainable project. Royal Irrigation Department (RID) has continuously supported the academics, developed the knowledge management quality, and then selected the work of clay core weir beneath sandbed to be the work expressing the initiatives and good example for RID development and ultimately it won the first prize of RID Innovation Award 2009 on water resources development. RID also promotes and disseminates academic knowledge by exhibition, manual for work practice, gives lectures for government agencies and related organizations, and disseminates the information and news via newspapers, as well as follows up the project evaluation by satisfaction questionnaire and beneficiaries’ interviews. For the country level, the RID work of clay core weir beneath sandbed achieved the outstanding of best practices Quality Service Award, Public Sector Management Quality Award (PMQA) 2013 from the Office of Public Sector Development Commission. Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (Public Organization) or HAII, Ministry of Science and Technology has studied the knowledge, local wisdom in solving problem, water management at community level and accepted the innovation of clay core weir beneath sandbed. Later on Monday 2 February 2009, the executives of the Institute brought the pictures and description of the project achievement respectfully to inform His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Piamsuk Villa of Klai Kangwol Palace, Hua Hin District of Prachuap Khirikhan Province. Then His Majesty graciously suggested to accelerate the extension of this achievement to other areas. In addition, this project can be applied to other areas that have the similar geological condition and it can be applicable together with check dams of other agencies implementing on natural resource and environment. It increases the efficiency of retaining and retarding water table for humidity in the forest area. Chief Executive Officer of the Province realizes the importance of this innovation, consequently supports the provincial strategic budget continuously every year even if the change of person who occupies this position. Moreover, the extension of the project has introduced to neighbouring provinces that have the similar topography and geology, e.g. Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lumphun, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Sukhothai and provinces that have sandy soil in the northeast area.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Mae Raka Canal Basin in Tak Province is deemed to be the prototype of ecological water resource development by the engineering principle applied with the primary local living in the area. Lesson to be learned from this innovation leads to villagers’ construction experience, skill and expertise, creating the learning process and community participation from the solution by wisdom techniques during the construction, methodology development, selection of new material for leak proof from real learning experience. This knowledge builds the strength to the community, harmony, and mutual ownership, reduces the villagers’ disputes, at last villagers are proud of the innovation’s compatibility Irrigation officers got lessons from experience in designing the natural canals being sandy soil with the basement of stratum, no water flowing 1 month in the dry season. They can apply this principles and concepts to solve the problem in a short period. Designers and irrigation officers have learned about problems, obstacles and constraints in the project implementation. Then they can transfer their knowledge and develop the publication for further extension of this successful project to adjacent villages, subdistricts and districts which have similar topography, by developing the pattern suitable for their local topography. Crucial factor in this project is the integration of implementation between government sector and every sector in the provinces emphasizing on problem solving. This leads the community to have good attitude towards the government’s solution, cooperate to support the project willingly. With this cause, the project can be implemented continuously, learning center of the community is developed. Therefore, it is interested by the study visits of the government sector, private organizations, mass media both in the headquarters and regions, government agencies, educational institutions, government executives of various training courses in and out the area. This is the learning source of innovation by local wisdom, compatible with villagers’ livelihood, “Sufficiency, Rationality and Self-Immunity” under the “Sufficiency Economy” Philosophy of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej exactly.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Royal Irrigation Department
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Dr. Wachiraporn Kumnerdpet
Title:   Section Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   + (66) 2 669 3775 / + (66) 2 669 1460
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   wkumnerdpet@gmail.com  
Address:   Office of Public Participatory Promotion, 811 Sam-sen Road
Postal Code:   10300
City:   Dusit
State/Province:   Bangkok

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