Read about Masahiko Haraguchi’s Research on the Impact of 2011 Thailand Floods on Supply Chains in Southeast Asia
From Vulnerability to Resilience: Measuring the Impact of 2011 Thailand Floods on Supply Chains in Southeast Asia
by: Masahiko Haraguchi, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Ph.D. Student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
“Our priority during the floods was to protect the life of the people.” These were words from one Thai government official who was in charge of water management and also the motivation for my research about the economic impacts of floods. Prolonged flooding in 2011 caused 813 of causalities and devastated the economy in Thailand. The Thai Central Bank estimated that the disruption of the supply chain resulted in a 76% reduction of GDP growth rate, from 4.1% expected to 1% in reality. As a Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellow, I investigated the vital components of economic systems in Southeast Asia that are resilient to disasters. In order to understand how companies are responding to natural hazards, I examined the role of private sectors and the environmental policy to bolster economic security. In particular, my study focused on the resilience of supply chains to flood risks in Thailand. This research is vital for Southeast Asia due to its important roles in global manufacturing networks and increasing risks of disasters in the region.
I visited Thailand in order to make progress on my research. I discussed with local researchers from Asian Institute of Technology, Thammasat University, and Chulalongkorn University. After explaining the goal of my research, they were so kind to share data and documents, believing that my research will contribute decreasing the vulnerability of the Thai economy to disasters. I also attended several workshops organized by a regional research center from University of Singapore and connected with Thai government agencies that hold important data sets for water management and socio-economic development. My work was not only related to Thai experts and organizations, but also Japanese experts and organizations. I had valuable meetings with the Japanese experts that were interested in cross-border issues in international trade in Southeast Asia. I discussed the validity of my research with researchers from the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO).
With the grant support from the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, I could investigate how companies in Thailand were affected by the enormous floods in 2011 and how the Thai government and private sectors are preparing for the next floods. In particular, I examined the inter-dependencies of economies in Southeast Asia and how the impact of the Thai floods propagated to other neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. I also evaluated how the Thai government is preparing for next coming floods with various measures such as investing a huge amount of money to hard infrastructures and creating a new insurance mechanism. I would argue that these policies of private sector development and environmental management to bolster economic security are still not tested in the face of long-term changes in climate. This multidisciplinary research directly related to sustainable development, as the research addressed the larger question of how economic stability can be achieved by decreasing the vulnerability of economic systems to natural hazards in Asia.
Thanks to the generous funding of the Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund Grant, I was able to advance my research on the vulnerability of supply chains to disasters. I have submitted an academic paper and made a presentation at the interdisciplinary conference of sustainability in September. As I return to Columbia this fall, I will continue my study based on the data, documents, and connections that I gained during the summer.