In a world of global challenges, continued poverty, inequity, and increasing vulnerability to disasters and disease, the International Federation with its global network, works to accomplish its Global Agenda, partnering with local community and civil society groups to prevent and alleviate human suffering from disasters, diseases and public health emergencies.
Executive Summary: The Red Cross Red Crescent tsunami recovery programme (TRP) in Thailand has been on track during the period under review with most programme areas moving ahead as anticipated. Although, a number of planned activities have not been completed. The International Federation Secretariat finished its activities in the six tsunami-affected provinces and closed its office in Phuket. The American Red Cross and Finnish Red Cross remain and continue to work in the six provinces.
During the reporting period, about 60 new programme staff were recruited and trained in the Thai Red Cross Society's bureaus and in partner national society teams. The recruitment got underway in the fourth quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008.
Throughout this reporting period, the TRP team continued to work closely with the Thai Red Cross bureaus to support ongoing activities. At the specific request of the Thai Red Cross, three key areas will be provided with multilateral support through the International Federation Secretariat in 2008/09; organizational development, disaster management and coordination. Such support will be based on issues identified or experiences gained during the tsunami recovery operation over the last three years.
Against the political backdrop of some instability at the national level, the operating environment in Thailand during this period has not been completely calm. Civil unrest has continued in three southern provinces with bomb attacks, shootings and arson attacks increasingly spilling over into neighbouring provinces and threatening to extend to Bangkok. The conflict has resulted in over 2,500 deaths in the past decade, with over 90 per cent of these occurring in the last four years. These regular incidents have made the daily lives of the local population much harder. The three provinces remain under emergency decree, and the skirmishes between the military and the militants continue.
The planned new national Constitution was approved and national elections were held on 23 December 2007. Economically, the fall of the US dollar against the Thai baht (THB) during the year has affected not only the competitiveness of Thai exporters but also producers across the country. The sharp increase in world oil prices is also pushing the cost of all commodities in Thailand gradually higher, once again affecting the poorest in the hardest way. Isolated cases of industrial action have been observed.
The international rice crisis earlier in the year has not negatively impacted Thailand at this time. The country is the world's leading rice exporter with a 31.4 per cent share of the global rice market. Thailand has seen the price of jasmine rice rise from between THB 12,000 and THB 15,000 per tonne late last year to between THB 34,600 and THB 36,000 in the second quarter of 2008. During the same period, the price of the cheaper white rice rose from between THB 7,000 and THB 10,000 per tonne to between THB 26,400 and THB 26,700.
During the last few months alone, the domestic rice price rose in Thailand by about 10 per cent. At the moment, this is not considered a threat to the food security of the population. For the government, it is considered a windfall for the farmers as it will increase their income after years of low rice prices, and will subsequently increase the purchasing power of the rural population. The Thai Government has stockpiled 2.1 million tonnes of rice in order to influence prices and to ensure domestic food security until the harvest.
Thailand is the only country in the region which has no export restrictions on rice. Out of a population of 60 million, 17 to 20 million are rice farmers. This year's harvest in November is expected to yield about 15.8 million tonnes of rice. The average export is expected to be around 9 million tonnes this year.
The International Federation is working with Thai Red Cross to support disaster management and organizational development activities. Thai Red Cross has also explicitly requested the International Federation Secretariat to play a role in coordinating the assistance offered to them by partner national societies.
The American Red Cross relies on the capacity and motivation of communities to address some of the health issues they deal with. They also help communities in preparedness training to empower them to mitigate and respond to potential future disasters.
The American Red Cross implements four key projects under the tsunami recovery programme:
- Community-based health;
- First aid and youth;
- Community-based disaster response and reduction;
- Improving the water supply and sanitation of the communities
The American Red Cross is also directly implementing a water and sanitation project while providing financial, technical and management support to the Thai Red Cross to implement the other three programmes. The programme has scaled up quickly during the six months under review; an additional five provincial offices are now fully operational as the American Red Cross expands all of its projects to reach tsunami-affected populations in all six tsunami affected provinces. Each office is composed of programme and project staff from both the American Red Cross and three bureaus of the Thai Red Cross.
The support of the Finnish Red Cross is focused on building the institutional preparedness of the Thai Red Cross through sea search and rescue, and strengthening regional blood services. The sea search and rescue project is also supported by the Norwegian Red Cross.
For further information specifically related to the tsunami operation in Thailand, please contact:
Federation country office in Thailand:
Stefan K=FChne-Hellmessen (programme coordinator), email: email@example.com; phone +66 2661 8201; fax +66 2661 9322.
Federation secretariat in Geneva:
Marcel Fortier (regional officer for Indonesia & Thailand), email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +41 22 730 4268
Priya Nair (grants officer, tsunami unit), email: email@example.com; phone: +41 22 730 4295