In-depth: Crisis Prevention and Recovery

Mae Hong Son
UNDP Thailand : UNDP used innovative tools and approaches in a rural Thai province to reduce social tensions, improve livelihoods, and build more resilient communities.

If recent history is any indicator, quick responses to global and regional crises are absolutely critical. In Thailand, UNDP is working to ensure that our efforts to aid the Royal Thai Government are prompt and capacity is developed when and where it is needed most.

In July 2011, Tropical Storm Nockten and seasonal southwest monsoon caused torrential rain and widespread flooding and tropical storm Nalgae brought additional heavy precipitation causing prolong floods affecting the Northeast, East and Central part of the country. Rain continued for months. A majority of Thailand’s 76 provinces were affected by the onslaught of water. Economic losses were severed. An early estimate of economic losses projected damages at $3.4 billion.

During that difficult period, UNDP was there to help. In the immediate early recovery period, UNDP Thailand coordinated with Resident Coordinator’s Office in Thailand to assist the RTG and enhance the capacity of the UN during the flood period. UNDP worked with other UN agencies and relevant stakeholders to conduct a needs assessment mission, and basic needs assessment for the development of relevant early recovery framework in consultation with stakeholders and the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. UNDP will used its technical expertise to provide advice and inputs on post-flood assistance and planning to national counterparts, as well as support the CO in strategic planning and programming on early recovery and preparedness in affected areas.

Responding to conflict is also essential. And for the past four three years, UNDP in Thailand has been working with local governments to reduce social tensions and build more resilient communities. In the North of Thailand, Mae Hong Son lies covered in forest and surrounded by mountains. It is the poorest province in Thailand with the lowest HDI and a diverse population. This province is home for 7 hill tribes with a minority Thai population; overall more than 50% of the households speak tribal languages.

The province is also home for a large number of displaced people from Myanmar, and other legal and illegal migrants. Economic opportunities and social services do not reach these vulnerable groups due to scarce resources, which could create potential tensions over the use of finite natural resources. Furthermore the natural resources in this area are not always used in a sustainable manner resulting in natural disaster vulnerabilities.

UNDP worked to enhance livelihoods opportunities and promote social cohesion, thereby creating an enabling environment for long-term development priorities. The project employed integrated community development methodologies, focusing on livelihoods generation, capacity development of local government, and natural resource management. By promoting equity among the different communities residing in the province, as well as promoting sustainable use of existing resources, giving special attention to women and children, the project aims to promote social cohesion and harmonious community development through the joint design and implementation of income generation activities, social integration measures and natural resources management plans.

UNDP is taking these lessons learned and our successes in the North to Thailand's restive South, where our Southern Thailand Empowerment Project (STEP) is working to empower people affected by violence in the Southern provinces. The South faces a range of challenges, education, lack of livelihood opportunities and youth unemployment.  UNDP aims to enhance community empowerment and public participation in local governance by focusing on capacity development of community-based organizations and local government.

Key Documents and Results
Building Social Cohesion: The Case of Mae Hong Son

UNDP in Thailand worked to improve the relationship between communities and the provincial government, by focusing on improving social service delivery, natural resource management and enhancing livelihoods.

Community Security and Social Cohesion

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Early Recovery

During the 2011 Thailand floods, UNDP responded by assisting with a needs assessment, planning, technical support and capacity building for early recovery in close collaboration with the Royal Thai Government.