Box 9 Tsunami of Mercy Swamps Villagers
VII Key Issues and Challenges for
Longer Term Recovery
A relief camp organizer explained, "one day we had
The tsunami raised certain issues and challenges
800 earthen stoves piling up in front of our centre,
which, while always being present in the public
almost blocking the entire street."
consciousness, had not till then been the focus of
public attention and policy debate. These included the
"We are thankful for all donations, but often supplies
issues of land tenure and title, the special needs of vul
do not respond to actual needs."
nerable communities, better management of natural
resources and environment and better preparedness
Professor Anuchart Puangsamlee from Mahidol
in the face of disasters.
University said. "The locals are now getting hit by
a second tidal wave which we might call the "Tsunami
1. Local Governance and Community Participation
of Mercy," and advised that residents in each
affected province pull together and work out
One year after the tsunami, it is now clear that the
what kind of help they need, when and how, and
recovery has been hampered by an inadequate level
petition the government with concrete proposals.
of community consultation and participation. People
have not had enough say in the building of housing, in
Source: The Nation, 18 January 2005
the planning of compensation schemes and in the
formulation of disaster preparedness plans. It is now a
There was clearly a need to improve communication
top priority to give communities a strong voice, pro
to potential providers of assistance regarding assessed
mote community empowerment and strengthen social
needs and to find an acceptable method of declining
capital as a means to sustainable and longer term devel
or redirecting unneeded contributions.
opment of affected communities.
The fact that the Government did not formally request
Local administrative organizations are mandated to
international assistance, while welcoming spontaneous
take the lead in many of the tsunami rehabilitation
gestures of generosity also created room for misunder
efforts, ranging from repair of infrastructure to liveli
standing, especially at the local level. It would have
hood restoration and promotion of the local economy.
considerably eased the situation if clear cut adminis
A key priority being addressed by the RTG is the en
trative instructions had been issued at the outset.
hancement of the technical capacity of local adminis
trative organizations in planning and implementation,
Another important lesson was that in the aftermath
as well as improving community consultation and
of future disasters, greater attention should be given
participation in decision making.
to vulnerable groups and protection of vulnerable
children against possible exposure to sexual exploitation,
In many cases, communities are not involved in local
trafficking, and abuse. Substantially more attention
administrative organizations decision making in tsunami
was required to adequately address the needs of ethnic
recovery efforts. This is evident in the more marginalized
groups and unregistered migrant workers who may
communities such as Chao Lay and Muslim communities.
have been largely overlooked during the tsunami
In fact, these communities have been excluded from
local government affairs even prior to the tsunami, both
because of their lack of understanding of their rights, and
Emergency communication was another area which
because of the passive approach of some local adminis
called for improvement. A backup emergency
trative organizations in reaching out to these commu
communications system, including local radio operators,
would have been helpful.
To ensure sustainable recovery from the tsunami, it is
essential that local governance becomes more inclusive,
that communities are empowered and understand
their rights and the significance of their involvement
in local administrative affairs. At the same time, a new