Thailand

ADB approves $1.7 million grant for Thailand's tsunami-affected Andaman region

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES (7 July 2005) - ADB has approved a US$1.7 million grant from its Asian Tsunami Fund (ATF) to help the Government of Thailand develop a comprehensive development plan for the tsunami-affected Andaman region.
The 26 December tsunami devastated Thailand's entire Andaman coast strip, between the borders of Malaysia and Myanmar, particularly the provinces of Krabi, Phanga, and Phuket (KPP subregion).

A total of 392 villages and some 54,500 people were affected by the tsunami in the country, with more than 5,000 deaths recorded and many others missing. Social impacts have been severe, with a dramatic rise in vulnerable groups such as orphans, one-parent families, and displaced people.

The KPP subregion further suffered from a range of economic problems related to its two main sources of livelihood - fishing and tourism. The natural environment of the subregion has also been seriously damaged by the erosion of beaches and sedimentation of coastal ecosystems.

"The Government, with the support of several development partners, is carrying out short-term actions such as repairing the fishing fleet, reconstructing houses, rehabilitating villages and resorts, and restoring livelihoods," says Alfredo Perdiguero, an ADB Project Economist.

"But many of these processes have long-term impacts and an effective and comprehensive medium and long-term plan for the affected provinces is required."

The TA will help prepare a subregional development plan (SRDP) for the KPP subregion for the next 15 years (2006-2020), and a medium-term action plan for priority actions and projects for 2006-2008.

The SRDP will include an overall structure plan that will provide the general direction of development for the six affected provinces of the Andaman region, but will particularly focus on the KPP subregion.

It will cover terms of land use, population distribution, settlement pattern, economic activity, social infrastructure and major utility and transport infrastructure. Key areas for economic investments as well as for conservation and environmental protection measures will be highlighted.

The SRDP will also include more specific area plans and broad key strategies covering regional economic development, environmental conservation and sustainable development, infrastructure planning, and community development and livelihoods. Priority sectors will be identified, and detailed pilot action plans covering urban design will be developed.

"It is envisaged that the subregional development plan will allow the subregion to move from a state of adversity to one of greater opportunity," says Mr. Perdiguero.

The TA will help address, among others, the problem of unbalanced spatial distribution of development efforts in the subregion. For example, while much aid for the tourism sector has been directed toward Phuket and Phi Phi, other areas with good tourism potential such as Krabi and Phanga have not received similar attention.

Relocation of some fishing communities away from the coast has led to local concerns on their livelihood prospects, and many of the new settlements' housing designs are deemed to be inappropriate to local needs.

There is also a migration of young people to "honey-pots" such as Phuket, where there are many job opportunities, exacerbating congestion in the more developed areas and leading to socioeconomic declines in underprivileged areas.

"The need to rectify subregional imbalances caused by the tsunami calls for long-term solutions," adds Mr. Perdiguero.

The Fiscal Policy Office is the executing agency for the TA, which will be carried out over nine months to April 2006.

The ATF was set up in February with an initial ADB contribution of $600 million to deliver prompt emergency grant funding to tsunami-affected countries. By mid-April, $570.3 million of ATF funds had already been committed to tsunami projects.

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