Life is a requisite for life. Therefore, SCG has organized “The Journey: Continuing HM the King’s check dam construction initiative across Thailand” as part of the “SCG Conserving Water for Tomorrow” Project to continue the water conservation and management initiatives of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The project was divided into two phases. The first phase was carried out on June 24-26, 2017 in Lampang and Chiang Mai and was attended by 60 participants, consisting of 10 community leaders and 10 youth representatives from three provinces, namely Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Khon Kaen. The second phase was conducted in local communities in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Kanchanaburi, and Khon Kaen respectively. In this phase, the community leaders put to practice the knowledge and experience gained from the first phase and passed it on to their communities, while the youth representatives spearheaded the effort to raise awareness of His Majesty’s initiatives among their fellow youths and promote participation in tackling water challenges in their areas.
Learning from Model Communities – Tracing the Origin of the Royally-Initated Check Dams
On the first day, the participants made an excursion to model communities in Lampang to learn from experts and the experience of representatives of these communities, namely Baan Sa Pae and Baan Pan Tai, which were once plagued with water management issues. Later, the group visited local sites to see their accomplishments, including the Kaem Ling (detention basin) management of Nong Pong in Baan Pan Tai, intensive farming in Baan Sa Pae, the knowledge dissemination network, as well as the hybrid and semi-permanent (gabion box) check dams and small reservoirs that fed a pond network. In addition, the participants also worked together to construct check dams for communities in Lam Huai Pong and Lam Huai Ton Pheung.
The second day was dedicated to tracing the origin of the royally-initiated check dams and learning His Majesty’s philosophy at Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Center in Chiang Mai, which served as a natural museum that His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej had created for his subjects where they could learn about water and put that knowledge to practice. The excursion was graced by the presence of Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, Chairman of Utokapat Foundation under the Royal Patronage of HM the King and Director of CSR Committee for Sustainable Development, who gave a lecture on the developmental path of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s sustainable water management initiatives and shared HM’s philosophy and aspirations with the participants to inspire them to later apply what they had learned to their communities in the second phase.
“When it comes to water, forests are indispensable. Without forests, water cannot be retained. It will just come and drain off. His Majesty said that forests could be grown without constructing their surroundings specifically for the trees and the flora underground. His suggestion was to create check dams. They can be compared to IV drip bags that, instead of letting all the water drain out, help it trickle and slowly seep through the soil. The moisture can then be retained on these mountains longer. We have seen success in a number of communities, and many are here with us today. They have adopted His Majesty’s initiatives and saved their communities.”
Afterwards, the first phase was concluded with a workshop to brainstorm for possible solutions to water issues of each area and further plans to pass on knowledge to their communities under the guidance of Kanit Tanoothamcharern, Secretariat of the Sustainable Habitat Development Association and guest speaker of the session.
Love for Hometown – Following in the Footsteps of His Majesty for Sustainability
In the second phase of “The Journey: Continuing HM the King’s check dam construction initiative across Thailand,” the participants went on another excursion, and the main activity was to continue His Majesty’s initiatives by passing on the knowledge and experience on water management obtained in the first phase of the project to the communities. To achieve this, they rolled up their sleeves to construct check dams together, starting from Baan Nam Phu in Sub-district Tham Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, with the cooperation of over 300 volunteers from various organization.
To maximize their benefits, the type of check dams must suit the landscape of each specific community. Because of its need to store water for drought, check dams that suited Nakhon Si Thammarat were hybrid and semi-permanent gabion box check dams.
In this project, the communities and the young generation of Nakhon Si Thammarat united not only to build check dams to restore moisture and lushness to their hometown but to kick off the Fai Nai Jai Project (Check Dam in the Heart), an effort to follow in the footsteps of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and implement his principles for sustainability.
Two representatives from Nakhon Si Thammarat who participated in the activities from the first phase to the check dam construction shared their opinion, showing that people of different ages loved their hometown just as much.
Tharakorn Thammakit (Luang) said, “Building check dams in our hearts is what I want to do. There will certainly be a hundred check dams built here in Tham Yai Sub-district. These check dams will help retain water in the area longer, so that it will not drain away in vain.”
Patcharachon Noonart (Alice), a young volunteer, said, “After having learned about check dam construction in Lampang and Chiang Mai, I understand a lot more about check dams. I feel inspired to build check dams in our hearts because it is a more sustainable solution for communities than just building check dams for them.”
This journey to pass on the know-how on check dam construction and water resource management would not have been successful, let alone possible, without the cooperation from every party involved. Our pursuit of His Majesty’s initiatives will never end because the significance of check dams and water conservation has been instilled in our consciousness and will last in our hearts.