World Vision post-tsunami study shows community recovery in Thailand

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Originally published
More than two years after the Asia Tsunami, World Vision in Thailand has found that livelihood security has recovered to a level near to or what it was prior to the disaster, support for education has increased, and community relationships have strengthened through work on rehabilitation projects.

The findings form part of a comprehensive Final Programme Evaluation undertaken by independent evaluators TANGO International, who surveyed 1,565 households and forty focus groups in World Vision programme areas, in addition to community and staff directed questionnaires.

More than 8,000 people were declared dead or missing in Thailand following the 2004 disaster. Around 300 villages across six provinces were impacted. Tourism, fishery and agricultural losses were substantial. An estimated 58,500 people were affected by the disaster and close to 1,500 children lost one or both parents.

The study found that individuals are returning to their primary livelihoods and asset ownership has returned to pre-tsunami levels - boat ownership, which dropped more than 40% as a result of the tsunami, is now back to pre-tsunami levels. World Vision's intervention in this sector included provision of assets, training, cash and support for livelihood groups.

"Livelihood groups, which were formed for activities such as fishing, batik-making and tourism ventures were clearly a focus, not just for economic support, but for communities to reconnect and rebuild. Women in particular were enthusiastic about their role in the groups and the opportunity to be able to work together, socialise and provide tangible support to their families," said Dr Jamo Huddle of World Vision's Tsunami Response Team.

The evaluation reconfirmed the strong attachment Thai households give to education and noted an increase since the tsunami. "Adult and children's commitment to education was one of the strongest messages that came from communities in the study," said Dr Huddle. According to the report, World Vision's support for education, Child Friendly Spaces and promotion of child rights was vital for child recovery and had a high level of community support.

Though many households are now thriving, others continue to struggle for a variety of reasons, such as the loss of a prime income earner or continued underemployment, but most people surveyed felt a more positive relationship between community members, a renewed appreciation for one another and a higher value on life after surviving the disaster. Those who reported negative changes point to financial stress and an increase in alcohol consumption. Across all provinces, people named strengthened relationships as the primary motivation for, and benefits of working together on community-based activities such as building houses, collecting garbage, and planting trees.

According to evaluators TANGO International, "World Vision's response to the tsunami was swift and targeted. Relief efforts comforted the lives of many as they struggled to comprehend the magnitude of their losses and to regain their lives and livelihoods. That World Vision remained in communities well beyond the relief phase was greatly appreciated by all communities, and it allowed them to undertake important medium-term actions to accelerate the recovery process and ensure that communities came away from the tragedy stronger than they met it."

World Vision will finish the Thailand Tsunami Programme next month, having completed more than 400 homes, livelihood activities for more than 5,000 people, construction of eight new schools, 32 childcare and family friendly centres, a sewing and batik-making centre, boat-building centre, organic rice farming centre, plant nursery and fishing group building. Extensive health, water and sanitation initiatives were also undertaken, in addition to the construction of emergency warning systems.

World Vision worked alongside the Thai Government, Royal Family, UNFPA, Asia Disaster Preparedness Center, Thai universities and the Thai Red Cross in implementing the USD 20 million response.