International Development Planning Review

Intermediaries and informal interactions in decentralised environmental management in peri-urban Bangkok

International Development Planning Review (2011), 33, (3), 247–272.

Abstract

Juxtaposition of urban and agricultural land uses in peri-urban areas results in intense and severe ecological problems, especially degradation of water in irrigation canals. In these areas, devolution has also been implemented, a process already saddled, as it were, with problems of low local capacity and susceptibility to elite capture. Overlaying of the devolution initiative on the complex ecological tensions in peri-urban areas has rendered devolved, formal environmental management functions problematic and created spaces susceptible to the various influences of non-state social actors. These spaces may result in local elite capture. On the other hand, they can create opportunities for meaningful grassroots community's empowerment to strengthen resident' claim to a clean environment vis-à-vis polluting industries through active engagement. Within this formal devolution process, informal transactions and the role of intermediaries are ubiquitous and critical in determining outcomes. Two case studies in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region demonstrate the beneficial role of intermediaries in enabling local communities to have severe pollution problems brought to the attention of appropriate levels of government and achieve some remedial action. Informality and role of intermediaries should thus be acknowledged and given space in developing the necessary innovative and adaptive institutions of governance for peri-urban areas.

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Kritsanaphan, Amorn

Sajor, Edsel