Community-Based Utilization of Ancient Water Resource and Management System of Mainland Southeast Asia

Surat Lertlum1, IM Sokrithy2, Aye Aye Oo3, Saito Chisato4, Shibayam Mamoru4

1CRMA Research Center, Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, Thailand

2Department of Conservation of the Monuments and Preventive Archaeology, APSARA National Authority, Cambodia

3Department of Archaeology, Dagon University, Myanmar

4Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan

Many ancient cities in ASEAN were originally equipped with functional water resource and management systems such as the water storage reservoirs and water canals with appropriate water distribution from natural environments and landscapes. Those systems could be revitalized for contemporary use, but barriers to improvement and modernisation exist. For example, the value of ancient ideas, knowledge and wisdom has not been duly respected or has been lost among local people, especially the younger generation, due to the rapid development and a lack of communal learning opportunities. The purpose of this research project is to understand how some ancient water systems in Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar could be sustainably utilised and managed now and into the future. The targets of this study are: 1) The areas surrounding Prasat Sdok Kok Thom temple, Sa kaeo province, Thailand; 2) Prasat Banteay Chhmar temple, Cambodia; and 3) Beikthano ancient city, Myanmar. Drawing on local knowledge through discussions with local authorities, residents and researchers from the three countries with a range of diverse backgrounds and interests in water management, we have been able to determine some of the most appropriate water management plans for each of the sites. Our experience shows that local communities, including the younger generation benefited from a regional, holistic approach to learning water management strategies and the technologies utilised across the region.