Thailand:Livelihoods Next Step to Tsunami Recovery
Livelihoods Next Step to Tsunami Recovery in Thailand, says UNDP Official
2 March, Bangkok, Thailand – Restoring livelihoods and rehabilitating the coastal environment top the list of new United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) post-tsunami initiatives in Thailand. These areas of long-term recovery support were announced today by Hafiz Pasha, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific, during his last stop on a two-week trip through Asian countries hardest hit by the tsunami. His trip included Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia ending today in Thailand, where he visited devastated Kao Lak communities in Phang Nga Province.
“The initial phases of emergency relief resulting from the Thai tsunami have ended, yet thousands of people remain affected,” says Mr. Pasha. “UNDP is now looking towards assistance for long-term recovery and reconstruction of tsunami-hit regions along the Andaman coast, with the pressing task of restoring livelihoods and hope for the future.”
UNDP estimates that over 120,000 people have been adversely affected in Thailand’s fisheries sector alone. Nearly 500 fishing villages along the Andaman coast are seriously affected, nearly 30,000 households dependant on fisheries have lost their means of livelihood, and over 4,500 fishing boats have been destroyed or damaged. UNDP will support community-managed small grants projects to help restore basic sources of income. This support will include micro-grants for repairing of productive assets such as fishing gear and boats. Returned money will be reinvested into a community revolving fund to finance training and planning for alternative livelihoods .
Special consideration will be given to maintaining traditional livelihoods and indigenous culture while promoting alternative livelihoods. Villages participating in this scheme are in Phang Nga, Ranong and Krabi provinces, and include sea gypsy and Muslim communities on Koh Lanta and Koh Sai Dam.
“The resilience of Thai people affected by the tsunami to reestablish their lives has been amazing. In Phang Nga I noticed that people are already turning to alternative means of income,” says Mr. Pasha, noting that fisher folk he met in Thailand were working in motorcycle repair from their tents in temporary housing.
“We want to help restore self-sufficiency while preparing people for possible future disasters,” says Mr. Pasha. “It is important to ensure that whatever efforts are made are done so with the full cooperation of affected people who are given the opportunity to decide on their own futures,” he says.
In the area of environmental management, UNDP will help to strengthen coral reef relief efforts already underway along the Andaman coast at eight major locations. UNDP has already supplied the Thailand with light marine equipment to assist in its volunteer reef clean-up program. Continued technical expertise will be offered for the rehabilitation, conservation and protection of coral reefs important to both the local tourism and fisheries industries.
For more information on UNDP Thailand’s post tsunami efforts: http://www.undp.or.th/tsunami/tsunami.htm