Prioritising gender equality and social inclusion in decision making for flood management in Bangkok

GFCP Womens Day

In celebration of Women's History Month, we highlight how Flood Management systems can promote the empowerment of vulnerable groups through the prioritisation of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion. 

Why is gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) significant in mitigating flooding in Bangkok? 

Bangkok is a centre for trade and commerce for Thailand and the wider Mekong Region. From ancient times, Bangkok’s location in the lower Chao Phraya River Delta has profited from fertile farmlands and strategic trade routes, but its location also makes it vulnerable to flooding. In recent decades, rapid urbanisation has increased the impact of flooding by interfering with natural watercourses and stormwater drainage systems. Green spaces, which act as a retention area during flooding, have significantly decreased. Intense rainfall and subsequent flooding cause health and social issues, transport and traffic disruption, personal and commercial property damage and other economic losses. Sea-level rise due to climate change also poses a challenge to flood management in Bangkok. Unfortunately, climate change is likely to further increase flood risk due to higher intensity rainfall.  

Flood in BangkokClimate change has resulted in increased flood risks due to higher intensity rainfall, negatively impacting the livelihoods of vulnerable groups. 

The Bangkok Decision Support System (DSS) for flood management engages with Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to increase the city’s ability to undertake planning for flood risk management as well as improve existing rainfall forecasting system also being enhanced by additional calibration of their existing rainfall radars to provide more accurate rainfall forecasts. The project enables BMA to make better informed and timely decisions on flood management and mitigation measures, helping Bangkok’s citizens to become more resilient and reducing the socio-economic and environmental damage caused by localised flooding events.  

The inclusion of GESI principles in the flood modelling study provides space for vulnerable groups in Bangkok to voice their flooding experiences. These vulnerable groups include women, children, the elderly, migrants and people with disabilities. Hearing their thoughts provides critical insights that can be utilised to better inform the local government’s decision-making system for flood management. Additionally, the project engages government stakeholders to provide insight and recommendations to improve flood warning systems for vulnerable groups. 

How do we consider Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in flood management?  

Flooding in Bangkok is a crucial issue that most Bangkok residents are likely to face. For vulnerable groups, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, migrants, the urban poor and women, flooding may cause more significant economic, health and safety impacts than compared to other city residents.  

The objectives of the GESI flood risk study are:  

  • To understand the risk and impact of flooding on each GESI group. 

  • To understand the abilities of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and government agencies in supporting flooding response and preparedness for GESI groups. 

  • To understand policy mechanisms and planning regarding the consideration of GESI groups in flood warning systems.  

  • To provide recommendations so that GESI considerations are addressed within flood warning systems. 

To understand the specific risks and needs of vulnerable populations in Bangkok, this GESI flood risk study applies the key conceptual framework of practical needs and strategic needs (FCO, 2018). Practical needs are immediate needs that directly affect people’s living conditions and wellbeing, such as, access to emergency response, healthcare and employment. In a disaster management context, strategic needs look at structural issues such as resilience and the ability to mitigate future risks. Additionally, the enabling environment, including local government policies and services, is considered.  

Stakeholder engagement  

Through strategic consultations (including roundtable discussions and in-depth interviews) with diverse stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), we captured flooding experiences from the city vulnerable groups. We also engaged central government and policymakers at the BMA and district level to provide a platform for policymakers to exchange knowledge and seek inter-agency collaborations.  

What are the results of consultations?  

Based on FCDO’s GESI framework, the concept of practical and strategic needs serves as a key analytical framework. The key GESI findings are divided into three topics based on intervention objectives. These are: practical needs of GESI groups; specific GESI needs; and flooding warning system policy and planning. 

Key findings 

Practical needs  

Strategic needs  

Measures to minimise economic impact, especially those who are not registered in the government database  

Specific flooding response planning for each GESI group in Bangkok  


Healthcare and sanitation for specific groups such as women, the elderly, specific needs of people with disabilities, unregistered urban poor communities, and migrant workers 

Enhance community engagement in a context of urbanisation to better prepare for flooding emergency  


Improve access to emergency flooding assistance for hard-to-reach populations  

Specific flooding emergency preparedness measures for GESI groups to facilitate different needs of each group  

Increase collaboration between relevant stakeholders, both horizontal and vertical co-ordinating mechanisms  

How can we make it happen? 

Drawing from discussions with relevant stakeholders, recommendations to improve flood warning systems have been grouped into four key areas, which are: inter-agency collaboration, interdisciplinary technology, proactive flooding emergency preparedness, and self-resilience building.

Collaboration graph

  1. Inter-disciplinary technology for flood warning systems should be developed by incorporating socio-economic and geospatial analysis. The database system should include population data, disaggregated by sex, age, disability status and migration status to inform flood warning systems for each specific vulnerable group.

    Inter-agency collaboration: policy mechanisms for collaboration should be established between the Office of Drainage and Sewerage and other BMA agencies such as the Office of Social Development and Office of Disaster and Mitigation to ensure flood warning is inclusive and effective.  

  2. Proactive flooding emergency response: A strategic plan and standard operating procedures for flooding emergencies that engages different BMA offices and GESI communities could result in context-specific and practical guidelines to assist these groups during an emergency.  

    Self-resilience capacity building for communities: Creating community-based networks will help build resilience for Bangkok residents, including GESI groups, and ensure that the project has a lasting positive legacy for communities.  

To what extent does the project achieve social outcomes? 

Collaboration graph

Based on FCDO’s GESI framework, minimum compliance, empowerment, and transformation have been achieved via the GESI mainstreaming process for the project. For minimum compliance, including key players in stakeholder consultation allows communities and government to voice their concerns and experiences. To empower the vulnerable, self-resiliency and flood preparedness measures can help the local government and the community more capable of mitigating the impact of flooding in Bangkok. Last but not least, by transforming the system by making room for disaggregated data that can inform inter-agency collaboration, institutional barriers that impede the GESI groups in accessing flood response assistance and preparedness will be removed.  

Collaboration graph


Mott MacDonald (MM)


Kingdom of Thailand




Strategy & Planning


Risk & Resilience

Data Systems


Nisanee Chaiprakobwiriya

GESI Advisor for GFCP Thailand Interventions