Trócaire's response to the tsunami in Thailand

In Thailand, 8,212 people were killed by the tsunami, including 2,448 non-Thai people who were visiting the area. 6,000 people were displaced (3,302 houses completely destroyed) and an estimated 1,480 children lost one or both parents.

Over 120,00 people who earned a living in the tourism sector lost their jobs and approximately 30,000 people who worked in the fisheries sector also lost their source of income. It was estimated that total losses in Thailand were USD $1.6 billion, with the tourist sector losing an estimated USD $25 million in the months following the tsunami. The tourist sector, though, is improving over time and many hotels and businesses are being rebuilt.

Trócaire's Response in Thailand

Trócaire's response to the tsunami was more modest in Thailand. This was because the level of need and destruction wasn't as great as in other countries. Trócaire provided €450,00 to projects in Thailand - €350,000 to the Catholic church's response to the tsunami and €100,000 to a local organization, Human Development Fund.

Our primary partner in Thailand is the Diocese of Suratthani, the mission in the area affected by the tsunami. The international network of Caritas organizations of which Trócaire is a part provided over €4.9 million to respond to the tsunami in Thailand. The tsunami response was a significant undertaking for the Diocese, which had little experience in dealing with emergencies. This did not stop them from making every effort to address the needs of affected communities. Through this process, the Diocese has further developed and is now laying plans for future work and outreach to the community.

The tsunami response of Catholic church organizations in Thailand has been focused on livelihoods, psychosocial supports, healthcare, education and community development. To ensure that funds are used properly and that programmes are implemented responsibly, the church in Thailand has sought the assistance of external evaluators to visit projects on a quarterly basis. Reports are also made to donors on a quarterly basis.

Trócaire Projects : Restoring livelihoods

Many of those affected by the tsunami worked in the fishing or tourist industry. Since the tsunami, the Diocese of Suratthani has built 282 new boats (out of a target of 350 boats) in order to enable these people to continue their work. Other families were provided with fishing tools and nets. Shop owners were provided with materials and assistance to set up new stalls.

As well as providing these practical items needed to re-establish livelihoods, training is also provided to open up new employment opportunities. The St. Agnes Vocational Center was recently opened in Krabi and will offer a variety of programmes including training in computers, English and sewing.

Trócaire Projects: Lessening trauma and giving hope for the future

Our local partners assessed that elderly people, people with disabilities and children were particularly in need of psycho-social assistance such as social activities and creative activities. People working with the children report that after five months of being involved in activities, the children were more cheerful, more open and more expressive. Programmes are also offered for youth.

Elderly people and people with disabilities are visited or invited to social activities close to their homes. In just a three month period this year, 733 elderly people participated in group activities organized by the diocese. Participants have said that they now feel that they have greater value and acceptability to their families and communities.

Trócaire Projects: Addressing healthcare needs

Following the tsunami, the diocese offered mobile clinics and stationary health clinics for victims of the tsunami. Through this experience of providing healthcare, they discovered that many people did not in fact have adequate services even before the tsunami. In a six month period this year, 30,894 patients were treated, almost double the target of 18,400 patients. Four communities are visited monthly.

The approach to healthcare includes not only addressing symptoms but also educating community members about health issues such as water and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Trócaire Projects: Enabling education

Students affected by the tsunami are given assistance to ensure that they can continue to attend school. This assistance has included provision of uniforms and food. Students have also been assisted with vocational training.

Trócaire Projects: Strengthening communities.

The tsunami response has identified people in particular need of support or who can make important contributions to their community. These people are in some cases assisted with financial contributions or tools in order to start businesses. A credit union has also been established.

Communities are also developed and strengthened through the development of community services such as shelters and water systems. The diocese has given support to communities based on need, rather than whether they are already connected with the church. This has brought the church into contact with Muslim communities and new relationships have been developed, resulting in new understandings regarding inter-faith issues.

Trócaire projects: Reducing vulnerability to future disasters

Volunteers are now being trained in how to handle emergencies, including how to provide assistance to tourists, as there are many tourists in the area. It is hoped that this training can serve to lessen the impact of any future disasters in the area.

How far we've come

Some examples of the progress of Trócaire's partners to this point

- 262 permanent houses built

- 282 new boats provided

- 6 water systems installed

- 28 enterprises established

- 1,088 activities held for children and youth

- Training of volunteers in handling emergencies

Projects funded in Thailand

Project title Partner Amount funded (Euro)
Support for families and communities to rebuild their lives and homes following the Tsunami Human Development Fund
Assisting tsunami-affected communities to rebuild their lives Caritas Thailand
Total funding for Thailand to December 2006

To contact Trócaire's press team:

Republic of Ireland

Catherine Ginty,
Press Officer,
T: +353 1 505 3270
M: 086 629 3994

Northern Ireland & UK

David O'Hare ,
Press Officer,
T: 028 90 80 80 30
M: +44 7900053884