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Countries being helped by the UNDPThe United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is a U.N. network that aims to eliminate poverty, increase resilience in poor communities, improve access to education and develop policies in struggling countries. One of the UNDP’s major projects is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This project focuses on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, clean water and sanitation and climate action.

The UNDP works with multiple struggling countries around the globe to meet these goals. Out of the 170 countries and territories being aided, below is a list of eight countries being helped by the UNDP.

8 Developing Countries Being Helped by the UNDP

  1. Nigeria: Nigeria is home to the highest number of people in poverty in the world, making it one of the poorest countries being helped by the UNDP. Due to this, the UNDP’s main focus in Nigeria is eradicating poverty. Since a large percentage of the poor population are farmers, the UNDP is working to make agricultural progress in communities and addressing challenges faced in terms of sustainability. In addition, the UNDP is working to create more jobs and improve access to sustainable energy sources.
  2. Afghanistan: A large part of Afghanistan’s population faces issues with the quality of life. The UNDP in Afghanistan aims to fight extreme poverty and inequality for the most vulnerable. Significant progress has already been made in terms of education. In 2001, only 70,000 school-aged children in Afghanistan were attending school. Currently, eight million children are attending school. The UNDP worked with the Ministry of Economy in Afghanistan in 2015 to spread the importance of Sustainable Development Goals for the country.
  3. Nepal: Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia. Due in part to the UNDP’s efforts in Nepal, major progress has been made in terms of eliminating poverty. Within four years, the country has reduced the poverty rate from 25.2 percent in 2011 to 21.6 percent in 2015. Specific goals the UNDP has for Nepal include building resilience against natural disasters, improving education access and improving access to basic resources such as electricity and clean water.
  4. Côte d’Ivoire: Through the anti-poverty program that was established by the UNDP, more than a quarter of a million people’s lives have significantly improved in Côte d’Ivoire. Through this initiative, 62 community organizations received monetary donations, project funding and vocational training to help them progress and reach their goals. In terms of agricultural issues, due to this program, fishing equipment has become more easily available and affordable. In addition, crop diversity has increased, providing more income and food options.
  5. Syria: Syria is a war-torn, impoverished country. As a result, Syrian people face issues with access to basic needs. This includes housing, access to necessary services and basic needs for women and the disabled. In 2018, the UNDP introduced the UNDP-Syria Resilience Programme, that focuses on improving the livelihood of such vulnerable groups. Through this project, more than 2.8 million Syrians were able to receive aid and benefits. These interventions have also produced benefits on a larger scale, including the creation of jobs, productive assets distribution and vocational training.
  6. Thailand: A large percentage of Thailand’s population lives in rural areas. Major problems for the rural poor include human rights issues, considerable economic inequality and weak rule of law. In Thailand, the UNDP is supporting and providing aid to ongoing projects and operations dedicated to problems being faced by its citizens. A major program the UNDP is supporting is the Thailand Country Program which focuses on environmental regulation and economic development. The UNDP is also working with the Thai Royal Government.
  7. Bangladesh: One of the biggest problems faced by Bangladesh is natural disaster risk. The UNDP started a project in January 2017 which is an ongoing collaboration with the National Resilience Program, the government, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and U.N. Women. It aims to develop strategies to create lasting resilience against unpredictable natural disasters, shocks, and crisis, that strongly impact the poor community. Specific aims of the project include strengthening communities, improving recovery and response to disasters and local disaster management.
  8. The Philippines: Approximately 25 percent of the Philippines lives in poverty. The UNDP’s projects in the Philippines include development planning, policymaking and implementing sustainable practices. One of the main aims of the UNDP is to localize poverty reduction and increase community involvement. The UNDP is also going about development planning in a way that will include increasing the use of natural resources in a sustainable manner while reducing poverty.

– Nupur Vachharajani
Photo: Flickr

ThailandDeath from rabies has decreased significantly in Thailand from almost 200 deaths 10 years ago to only eight in 2015. With the death rate from rabies-related cases decreasing, Thailand is well on its way to reaching its proposed goal of eliminating the disease by the year 2020. Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol visited the World Health Organization’s (WHO) headquarters in Geneva this past August advocating for an end to rabies. She has contributed to promoting the mass vaccination and management of dogs and to enhanced awareness of the disease.

Rabies is a fatal but curable disease that targets rural and poor communities, predominantly, in Asia and in Africa. It can be transferrable through bites and scratches from infected animals, most commonly, dogs. Her Royal Highness’ aid in helping people become aware of the disease and how to prevent it is helping Thailand reach its goal to eliminate rabies by 2020, which is in line with the wider international initiative to end human rabies deaths by 2030. 

Eliminating a disease like rabies requires a response from the many pet owners in Thailand. Vaccinations for the disease stop disease transmission at its source, the animal. Thailand actually leads the world in developing and implementing disease control methods such as cost-saving intradermal vaccines which are also dose-saving, meaning low-income pet owners can give fewer doses with the same level of effectiveness. This is especially important when it comes to making these vaccines more widespread in poorer and more rural populations.

Education programs have been created around the world and are being used in Thailand to help communities understand how to avoid being bitten, how to learn animal behavior and what to do when in contact with a rabid animal. Programs teaching the Thai people how to take care of wounds are also being implemented and help in the fight to eliminate rabies.

Increasing mobile units to more rural areas outside of Bangkok that provide care for the people and to bring the necessary care-service to dogs is another step in ending this disease. Post-exposure prophylaxis or, PEP, is brought to these remote areas and helps ensure that at least 70 percent of dogs in the area receive the vaccination. HRH Princess Chulabhorn not only cares to help improve the health of the people but is also concerned with promoting a more humane treatment of dogs and is helping other countries adopt more sustainable and compassionate ways of treating them. She goes on to say that if any other country needs help with the elimination of rabies she is willing to lend a helping hand.

WHO is working closely with Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn to help achieve the goal of eliminating rabies globally by 2030. As for Thailand, with an action plan already in place, it is up to the communities in the country to eliminate rabies by 2020. 

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Women's empowerment in ThailandWomen play key roles in regards to economic wealth and their involvement in the economy leads to a better quality of life for families and communities. According to a new United Nations study, women are projected to make up a majority of the world’s urban dwellers and to lead an increasing number of households. Gender equality in employment, housing, health and education is vital in ensuring the prosperity of future countries.

The need for gender equality is especially prevalent in Thailand where, even though the poverty rate is decreasing, women and children are still at risk of sexual and domestic violence.Thanks to the many issues within Thailand, new human security threats are emerging. Issues include the prevalence of traditional attitudes and stereotypes which validate domestic violence and violence against women, low participation of women in politics and in positions of power, trafficking and exploitation. 

There are steps being taken to address these issues and empower women in Thailand. One of the main disadvantages for women is the inability to access better education, employment and health services. The Women’s Empowerment Fund was established to help women acquire just these things. The fund program, lead by Amporn Boontan, is based in the northern part of Thailand, in the city of Chiang Mai. 

Boontan believes that her new position as Thailand’s regional coordinating group (RCG) representative for JASS Southeast Asia, can help promote the role of women, protect women’s rights and advocate for more protective domestic violence laws. She also maintains involvement with civil society groups like the Thai Youth Action Program where she trains youth in topics like sexual health, youth violence and leadership skills.

The U.N. Women organization works with the government in Thailand and with other partners to carry out national and international goals relating to the empowerment of women. These goals will improve women’s empowerment in Thailand and continue to lower the poverty rates in the country.

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

 

Development Projects in ThailandEconomic development in Thailand has been increasing rapidly over the past 40 years. Poverty has declined considerably from 67 percent in 1986 to just 7.2 percent in 2015. The rate of economic recovery and reignition of growth will both depend on how fast Thailand can address structural constraints. To this end, there is hope since, according to the World Bank, there are many opportunities available to help with development in Thailand and to help the many people in the country.

There are a variety of options that can help with development in Thailand such as improving the business environment, expanding trade through better integration with the global economy, implementing public investments to private capital, stimulating domestic consumption and improving the quality of public services across the country. Beginning in 2017, in order to be recognized as a developed country, Thailand set long-term economic goals that address many key issues in the country. The Minister of Transport in Thailand, Prajin Juntong, has created five development projects in to help boost the infrastructure sector and encourage growth and prosperity for the Southeast Asian country:

  1. Project one: Developing urban connection, which includes buses, sky trains, metros and taxis, to help improve connectivity between different parts of Bangkok and enhance travel for passengers. Advancing these forms of transportation will also promote the use of public transportation as opposed to private cars.
  2. Project two: Connecting railway tracks between cities within Thailand and with neighboring countries. The current railway system is a one-meter single track system but a one-meter dual track system will be installed in its place. This will help ensure a timely and safe delivery of passengers and goods around the country. The targeted distance for this expansion is 3,000 kilometers or about 1,864 miles.
  3. Project three: Upgrading airports to accommodate the extra five million passengers at the Suvarnabhumi airport, Don Mueang airport and the Royal Thai Navy’s Utapao airport, all of which are international airports. Parts of this project include adding additional terminals and parking spots to airports and constructing extra runways. Smaller, more domestic airports like the one in Phuket will also receive upgrades so that there can be a high functioning airport available to take in the many travelers to the highly popular island.
  4. Project four: Expanding seaports in the southern part of Thailand, to and from the Andaman Sea, to expand trade between Europe and Asia. The main part of this project is a venture called the Dawei project, an international joint expansion project of seaports with Myanmar. Domestic ports like The Songkhla seaport and Chumporn seaport will be upgraded in the future and another new port, Pak Bala, will be built.
  5. Project five: Expanding roads and highways to increase public convenience and accommodate the increasing population. This project aims to connect people to newer economic zones. Recently, 12 of these economic zones have been added in Thailand so it is important that cities are connected to each other and economic areas are connected to neighboring countries.

Thailand’s economy is expected to develop further in 2018, with an increase of around 3.6 percent. Even faster growth may be possible in the long run with the inclusion of public infrastructure management. When these five development projects in Thailand are carried-out more opportunities will develop and economic growth will increase.  

Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Eliminate AIDSThailand has recently launched a new national strategy, with the goal of eliminating AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The plan, devised by the Ministry of Public Health, aims to use rigorous strategy of detecting, treating and suppressing the AIDS virus within the infected population.

The first step of the plan aims to meet the global 90-90-90 goal by 2020, where the first 90 percent of people who have AIDS are informed of their infection. This 90 percent of infected people should then have access to, and begin, treatment. Then, 90 percent of people who have received treatment are fully virally suppressed. This breakdown provides realistic goals for the plan’s execution.

This plan is targeted to the key demographics among which the HIV rate is the highest. Thailand’s government is committing full efforts to providing the citizens with prevention and outreach programs in highly infectious areas to help inform and protect the uninfected populations.

One of the further goals of this plan is to eventually include hepatitis C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases as serious public health issues to be resolved within Thailand. The U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) firmly believes in Thailand’s plan, as its pilot tests have resulted in an excellent effective rate. Because of this, UNAIDS would like to implement the plan in more nations dealing with similar situations.

The initial segment of the plan – encompassing 2015 to 2019 – is dedicated to the testing of new measures as well as setting up new two-way coordination frameworks for the execution of the rest of the plan. This segment includes a majority of pilot testing, where the results of the data collected would help to produce the next plan segment.

While Thailand is pioneering new widespread measures to eliminate AIDS, their groundbreaking work will be a stepping stone to the elimination of AIDS in the nation. With massive organizations, such as UNAIDS, working alongside them to study and develop solutions, there is a lot of promise in the eventual elimination of the global AIDS issue.

Rebekah

Photo: Flickr

60. Thailand Is Fighting to Become a Rabies-Free NationOn August 28, 2017, Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol of Thailand visited the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva. The purpose of her visit was largely related to her efforts regarding a widespread health concern, as Thailand is fighting to become a rabies-free nation. Princess Mahidol hopes to accomplish this goal in Thailand by 2020, which is line with a broader initiative to eradicate human rabies deaths by 2030.

Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease that predominantly affects southeast Asia and parts of Africa, but exists worldwide. The disease is transmitted through contact with an infected, warm-blooded animal. While most people are familiar with the transmission occurring by bite, the disease can also spread by saliva on broken skin or through a mucous membrane in the eyes, nose or mouth.

For Thailand, dogs present the greatest rabies threat to humans. There are an estimated 10 million dogs in the country. The National Health Institute suggests that about 10 percent of stray dogs in Bangkok carry the disease. These dogs pose risks to travelers, people who work around animals and playful children alike.

Thailand’s government has taken up this issue in part due to the specific risk rabies poses to the majority of the country’s population living in low-income rural areas. However, treatment with prophylaxis (PEP) is very accessible and affordable. Through mass dog vaccination and treatment of infected humans, Thailand has already succeeded in reducing human rabies cases by 90 percent since the 1980s. According to Chulalongkorn University’s Dr. H. Wilde, the most important next step is to get PEP out to the village level, because that is where Thailand “could save many thousands of lives.”

The villages of Thailand are far away from the hospitals of Bangkok and typically are host to the greatest levels of poverty. On a country-wide level, poverty has significantly decreased in the last 30 years. However, Princess Mahidol has recognized there is still a need for better healthcare among the impoverished. Princess Mahidol is seeking to send mobile units to provide care for people that do not have the means of acquiring treatment in bigger cities. This provision is possible as a direct reflection of the government’s fight against poverty. By focusing on reducing poverty and expanding welfare services, nearly everyone in Thailand is covered by health insurance, which makes the treatment even more accessible and affordable.

Thailand is working to become a rabies-free nation by 2020 and owes much of its success to its continued fight against poverty. By reducing the number of people affected by poverty and expanding welfare services to include broad health insurance, those in Thailand are likely to see the end of rabies soon.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Climate Change in Thailand
In December 2016, Thailand received another wave of extreme weather that once again reminded citizens about the challenges of climate change. The Asian Development Bank reports that this issue is to be one of the most significant obstacles to development in Southeast Asia for the 21st century. Climate change in Thailand has caused challenges that impede the country’s development in the agricultural and health sectors.

Agricultural Development
Thailand is the world’s largest rice exporter, making agricultural output ten percent of the country’s GDP. Before the heavy rainfalls in December 2016, Thailand experienced four years of droughts which significantly affected the country’s agricultural industry.

The consecutive warm, dry years created a drought, leaving the water reservoirs and irrigation systems dry in the country. The Prime Minister mandated that farmers should cultivate less rice to reduce the intensity of the water crisis.

As 31.84 percent of the workforce in Thailand are employed in the agricultural sector, the fall in output of rice production and other crops significantly impacted the livelihoods of citizens. The droughts, therefore, cut incomes and led many farmers to fall into debt.

While the heavy rainfalls of December 2016 ended the droughts affecting the country’s agriculture industry, the extreme weather created detrimental flooding that damaged over 590,000 acres of farmland. With much of the economy relying on agriculture and natural resources for income, climate change in Thailand has critically affected the productivity and development of the nation.

Health
In 2002, Thailand established universal health coverage, and, by 2013, the nation was spending 4.6 percent of its GDP on health services. However, a statement by the World Health Organization says investment in the population’s health is likely to be threatened by climate change.

With increasing temperatures in Thailand, the sea levels have risen between 12 and 22 centimeters over the last century. With rising water levels, the country is expected to continue to experience extreme flooding as was seen in 2011 and late 2016.

The WHO estimates that, if the current emissions standards remain, over 2.4 million citizens in Thailand will be affected by flooding from the sea. Therefore, climate change in Thailand is expected to increase the chance of water-borne diseases as well as insect-borne crises such as dengue fever and malaria. By 2070 the WHO predicts that 71 million people in Thailand will be at risk for malaria if current climate changes persist.

Along with greater risks of flooding, higher temperatures may also increase malnutrition in the nation. Higher temperatures are creating land and water scarcity as well as the displacement of the population of Thailand. These events have impacted the agricultural production and have caused a breakdown in the food systems of the country. The WHO believes that this is one of the many issues created by climate change, with food insecurity affecting the vulnerable the most.

These are two areas of Thailand’s economy that are being significantly impacted by climate change. While the challenges are acknowledged by the nation, solutions are being debated frequently. The government of Thailand is attempting to introduce flood protection walls however many individuals believe that climate monitoring systems should be the center of a long run solution. With over 80 percent of all natural disasters today being a result of climate change, the question should not be how to avoid the impact of the events but rather how to eliminate them.

Tess Hinteregger

Photo: Flickr

Thailand Poverty RateIn recent years, Thailand has made tremendous strides in pulling itself out of poverty. In 2011, Thailand became classified as an upper middle-income economy as the Thailand poverty rate has been steadily falling since the 1980s.

In 2015, according to the World Bank, the Thailand poverty rate was 7.2 percent, a tremendous change from 67 percent in 1986. While the Asian Development Bank reported a slightly higher poverty rate of 10.5 percent, the decrease in poverty in Thailand is undeniable. In comparison to the rest of Southeast Asia, Thailand boasts the third-lowest poverty rate right behind Malaysia and Vietnam.

However, poverty in Thailand tends to concentrate in two main groups: those living in rural areas and the elderly. Of the roughly 7-10 percent that live in poverty, a majority of those live outside of metropolitan areas. As of 2014, more than 80 percent of those living below the poverty line resided in rural towns.

The poverty rate in Thailand is also high among those over the age of 60. Thailand’s population has peaked and is expected to begin decreasing by 2030, which means that the number of working-age people is decreasing. Poverty affects those over the age of 60 at a higher rate than the national average at 10.9 percent.

Many point to significant economic growth as a catalyst to Thailand’s falling poverty rate. Thailand’s economy has been steadily growing since the 1960s, creating jobs that have helped millions escape from poverty. Although growth has slowed down slightly, the World Bank expects it to pick up once again in 2017.

As a result of economic growth, many have experienced improvements in welfare. Many Thai children have had their quality of life improved. Literacy rates have increased while the rate of childhood death and disease have decreased. Most people are covered by health insurance and social security has increased as well.

This is not to say that poverty is no longer an issue within Thailand. Many still live without access to basic social services and the poor continue to be more vulnerable to illness and unemployment. However, it is important to understand the Thailand poverty rate — and how it has fallen dramatically — in order for the country to continue its trend away from poverty.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Living in ThailandThailand is one of the most popular countries in the world for expatriates. While the beauty of the natural environment is crucial, another important reason is the relatively inexpensive cost of living. In 2015, the International Living Magazine rated Thailand as the 10th best country in which to retire. While Thailand has experienced remarkable economic growth over the past few decades, the cost of living in Thailand still remains relatively low. According to Numbeo, an international price comparison website, the cost of living in Thailand is 36.73 percent lower than in the United States, and rent in Thailand is 58.53 percent lower than in the United States.

Public transportation

A bus fee ranges from approximately THB 8 to 30, depending on the type of the bus. Since one Thai Baht is worth about $0.03, public transportation can cost less than a dollar. Tuk-tuks, the three-wheeled taxis that are common in the country, normally cost THB 40 to 100 for a short ten-minute ride, which is also highly affordable. The base fare for metered taxis is THB 35.

Housing

Cheap rental and housing prices also contribute to the low cost of living in Thailand. Numbeo states that an expensive one-bedroom apartment inside the City Center in Bangkok costs around THB 14,317 (equivalent to approximately $430), which is much cheaper than the rent in major U.S. cities.

Food prices

The food prices in Thailand are also much less expensive than those in most developed countries. For example, the prices of most popular grocery items are as follows: a loaf of bread costs $1.12, which is only half of its average price in the United States, Additionally, a dozen eggs costs $1.65, compared to the average price of $2.23 in the United States.

The street foods are also known for their affordability. A simple meal consisting of rice, vegetables and meat on a single plate ranges from approximately THB 30 to 50, which equals to just more than one dollar. A fancier meal with a selection of dishes that may often include an entire fish would cost from THB 60 to 200 ($2 to $6).

The aforementioned factors are main contributors to the low cost of living in Thailand. However, the high possibility of continued economic growth would gradually increase the cost of living in Thailand.

Minh Joo Yi

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in ThailandWith places like Bangkok and Khao Yai National Park, Thailand has become a very popular tourist country. In 2016 alone, the country with a population of more than 68 million people hosted close to 33 million visitors. Alongside its many attractions are some issues, including that diseases in Thailand are a persistent problem. Here are three common diseases in Thailand:

  1. Dengue
    Dengue is a viral disease that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit. Once someone is infected, they become a carrier. There are four strains of the virus. Dengue mostly impacts people in tropical climates. Symptoms include high fever and pain in joints, in muscles and behind the eyes.There is currently no cure. It is recommended to seek professional medical care when experiencing symptoms.According to the World Health Organization, “the America, South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions are the most seriously affected” by dengue. The WHO reports 50 to 100 million dengue cases annually. There is now a vaccination for the disease.
  2. HIV/AIDS
    HIV is a sexually transmitted infection that weakens the immune system by destroying helper T cells. According to UNAIDS estimates, 440,000 Thai people were living with HIV in 2015.While there is no cure for HIV, there is a treatment known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART helps those infected and can even prevent the development of AIDS, which is the last stage of the infection. With the approval of the National AIDS Committee, Thailand is following a plan aimed at eliminating HIV/AIDS in the country by 2030.
  3. Zika Virus
    As with dengue, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread the Zika virus. It can also be sexually transmitted. According to Reuters, Thailand had around 200 Zika cases from January to September 2016, from January to September. Zika virus is known to cause deformations in newborn babies. For this reason, it is suggested that pregnant women stay away from places where it is prevalent, including Thailand.The people of Thailand are doing what they can to fight Zika virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention trained laboratory workers on how to detect it. There are also surveillance systems that monitor diseases in Thailand, including the Zika virus. There is currently no cure for the Zika virus, but there are tests on a vaccine underway.

These are all presently common diseases in Thailand, but there is significant research being conducted to reduce and eliminate their impact. For now, doctors will continue to assist those affected until their cures are found.

Raven A. Rentas

Photo: Flickr