ADB IHE Delft Knowledge Partnership
Asian Development Bank - IHE Delft

Flood Risk Assessment Historic Bangkok (Ayutthaya)

The Historic City of Ayutthaya, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991, is located in the central plain of the Chao Phraya River Basin and was subject to an extreme flooding event in the fall of 2011 as part of the worst flooding which Thailand has experienced in decades

The destruction of heritage properties through disasters creates a serious loss for the national and local communities, not only because of the cultural importance of heritage assets but also for their socio-economic value. Thus, the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session in 2007 adopted a Strategy for Reducing Risks at World Heritage Properties (WHC-07/31.COM/7.2) stressing the need for integrating heritage concerns into national disaster reduction policies and addressing disaster risk reduction within management systems for World Heritage properties.

In response to the flooding of Ayutthaya, UNESCO Bangkok liaised with the Thai Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department (FAD) in mobilizing international and national expertise to assess the extent of damages that occurred from this flood event and also to assess the critical issues that caused it. Based on the several expert missions undertaken in November-December 2011 the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Centre for the Study of Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) recommended developing an overall disaster mitigation strategy for the Historic City of Ayutthaya. More specifically, experts recommended undertaking a flood risk study that will address issues specific to Ayutthaya and will identify effective flood protection measures for a flood disaster risk management plan.

Objectives and preliminary results

In view of the above, this project aims to develop a preliminary plan for disaster risk reduction at the Historic City of Ayutthaya World Heritage site was formulated. A particular challenge in this project is to develop a flood risk assessment framework that can address not only tangible but also intangible values of cultural and heritage assets. Also, a set of flood protection measures will be analysed and proposed. This initiative fits very well with all other flood-related activities that the Thai Government is currently undertaking (e.g., JICA study of the entire Chao Praya River Basin, Figure 2). The details of the present project have been coordinated with JICA representatives who will focus their study on the entire river basin whereas the proposed study will address Ayutthaya area with greater level of details. Therefore, these initiatives are complementary and the activities proposed within the present project will be synergised with activities of all concerned parties. 

Furthermore, the proposed project will be in line with the plans of the Fine Arts Department to move forward on developing disaster risk mitigation plans for cultural heritage sites in Thailand. In addition, it will follow the World Heritage Committee’s strategy for reducing disaster risks at World Heritage sites. It is important to note that up to date very few World Heritage properties have incorporated disaster risk mitigation strategies into their management systems and this project will lead towards the production of a plan that will be one of the first of its kind not only in the region but also globally.