challenge due to their unique and special characteris 
officials and experts see the tsunami recovery as an
tics.  Given their semi nomadic lifestyles and substan 
opportunity to get things right, by improving coastal
tial differences in culture, language, and traditions,
zone planning, and strengthening measures to protect
many  communities have not actively participated or
the environment.
been involved with relevant local government organi 
zations in the planning and sustainable development
One year after the tsunami, some worry that this
of their settlements or livelihoods.  They are now fac 
opportunity may have at least partly been missed.  The
ing stark choices in the aftermath of the disaster, and
tourism sector is being re built back in the way it was
pressure to assimilate into mainstream Thai society.
before the tsunami, with inadequate attention given
to waste management, mitigation to coastal erosion,
What this vulnerable community now requires is culturally
and protecting marine habitats.
sensitive and appropriate rehabilitation, which allows
them to retain their distinct identity and culture while
The RTG is now adopting a long term vision and planning
affording access to basic social services.  Outside pressures,
framework for the Andaman Coast as the key to the
including from faith based aid groups could, accord 
sustainable development of this region.  A sound
ing to French anthropologist Jacques Ivanoff, an author 
framework for Integrated Coastal Zones Management
ity on Chao Lay,  threaten their way of life more than
and  Longer Term Environment Rehabilitation and
any number of tsunamis. 
Protection needs to be put in place to prevent uncoor 
dinated over exploitation of this area.
8. Environmental Rehabilitation   lost opportunity?
9. Community Based Disaster Preparedness
The tsunami helped to highlight the unsustainable,
environmentally damaging, and at times chaotic
The RTG rightly gives great priority to the development
development of the tourism industry along the
of early warning systems and to improve disaster
Andaman Coast.   Many environmentalists, government
preparedness to protect the coastal communities in
case of another tsunami.  These efforts also have an
important psychological dimension in that an effective
Box 13 Savants of the Sea Engulfed
early warning system will calm fears among local commu 
by Politics
nities and reassure tourists that it is safe to visit Thailand.
Some of the Moken living in Koh Surin National
It is clear that effective tsunami early warning depends
Park took refuge on the mainland after the disas 
just as much, if not more, on strong community involve 
ter when their homes and boats were washed
ment and awareness as it does on regional cooperation
away. They found themselves pressured by power
and high tech solutions. For an early warning system
brokers, NGOs and politicians to stay on the main 
to work, community consultation and dialogue is essential
land and assimilate, but have since returned to the
in order to give everybody   villagers, community
Park.  Dr. Narumon Hinshiranan, an expert on the
leaders and local government officials   the opportunity
Moken at Chulalongkorn University and partner
to give inputs and express their views. This will ensure
of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
community by community and household by household
Cultural Organization s Andaman Pilot Project  
disaster preparedness plans that are grounded in real 
aimed at helping these people help themselves,
ity and have the necessary buy in and trust of the com 
backed the Moken s plan to return to Surin.  Like
Narumon, the Koh Surin National Park authorities
also wanted the Moken to remain on Koh Surin,
Looking ahead, the focus on tsunami early warning is
where they have become part of the working in 
providing a good opportunity for establishing a sus 
tainable multi hazard, community based disaster risk
reduction system in Thailand.  In the end, the com 
Source: Asia Times, 23 April 2005;
munities along the Andaman Coast and elsewhere will
emerge more resilient and better prepared in case of
future disasters, be they tsunamis, severe weather, flash
floods, accidents, or fires.
PA; 20 March 2005

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