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Improving Farmers’ Adaptive Capacity to Manage Water Dynamics Through Participatory Agent-Based Modelling and Simulation in Northeast Thailand

Congress: 2008
Author(s): W. Naivinit, Guy Trébuil, Manitchara Thongnoi, Christophe Le Page

Keyword(s): adaptive management, water dynamic, labour migration, companion modelling, agent-based model
AbstractThe XIIIth World Water Congress 2008 Global changes and water resources: Confronting the expanding and diversifying pressures 1-4 September 2008, Montpellier, France Proposed session: Capacity building in developing countries ABSTRACT Submitted for oral presentation Improving Farmers’ Adaptive Capacity to Manage Water Dynamics Through Participatory Agent-Based Modelling and Simulation in Northeast Thailand W. Naivinit1, C. Le Page2, M. Thongnoi3, and G. Trébuil4 1 Faculty of Agriculture, Ubon Rajathanee Universit; Ph.D. student at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and Paris X – Nanterre University, France; 2, 4Cirad, UPR Green, Montpellier, F34000 France; CU – Cirad ComMod Project, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand; 3 M.Sc. student, Faculty of Agriculture, Ubon Rajathanee University, Thailand Northeast Thailand has the largest rainfed lowland rice (RLR) ecosystem in the kingdom and is notoriously known for its high rate of poor smallholders. The unstable rice productivity as a consequence of an unfavourable ecological environment (erratic rainfall and infertile soils) interacting with low price of rice drives these poor people to migrate for more profitable employment leaving often their land and its water underused. During the last 15 years, small water resource improvement programs launched by the Thai government under its poverty alleviation agenda had limited success. Labour migration is an adaptive strategy to cope with the uncertainty of rainfall and its distribution. As a consequence, off-farm employment becomes a more and more important source of income. But the relationship between labour migrations and land and water management on the farms is still poorly documented. Therefore, we used the Companion Modelling (ComMod) approach to improve the understanding of this key interaction and to reinforce stakeholders’ adaptive capacity to deal with uncertainty linked to water dynamics and labour management in the Lam Dome Yai watershed of Ubon Ratchathani Province. ComMod facilitates dialogue, shared learning, and collective decision-making to strengthen the adaptive management capacity of local communities through integrative collaborative modelling. The cyclic ComMod process is made of iterative loops comprising field investigations, modelling, and participatory simulations relying on the combinations of Role-Playing Games (RPG) and Agent-Based Models (ABM) used with stakeholders. In this case study, 5 ComMod loops were carried out to better understand the problem being examined, stimulate exchange of points of view and enhance the creativity of the participants while lessening the black box effect of computer models. The key processes embedded in the models are based on stakeholders’ decision-making driven by human-environment interactions. We take into account the diversity of farm types with their specific strategies and means of productions. The RPG and the ABM represent this diversity as rule -based agents (local farmers) managing this specific RLR ecosystem. The RPG mainly helped the stakeholders to understand the rules and sequence of ABM simulation while the ABM helped the stakeholders to better understand self-situation and examined causes of actions of other players. The ABM is used to identify the scenarios with local farmers, and simulated for discovery learning towards to desirable scenarios. The communication presents and discusses the various effects of this participatory modeling and simulation process on the different components of farmers’ adaptive capacity: learning and understanding the problem, capacity and network building through social learning, and new behaviours and practices such as more cash crops the dry season when additional water is available by very small farming households. The preliminary results of scenarios simulated with farmers are also discussed. In conclusion we explain how the outcomes of such a ComMod process could be used to inform water policies at the regional level.
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