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ECHOTucked away in North Fort Myers, Fla., just minutes away from a bustling downtown and warm sunny beaches, sits the Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization global farm. ECHO, as it is more commonly known, was founded in the early 1970s primarily to provide solutions directly for Haiti, particularly those that would improve the nation’s agricultural development. By 1981, ECHO began developing agricultural solutions for multiple nations and continues to carry on that mission today as it is working to fight global hunger and poverty. With better agricultural solutions, ECHO is helping farmers across the globe increase their agricultural output and understanding of more sustainable farming practices. This, in turn, helps improve the farmers’ standard of living.

Areas of Impact

Southwest Florida’s unique climate allowed ECHO, in 2001, to develop six different areas of tropical climate zones on the global farm. This allows researchers and farmers to test different growing methods and food production for different nations. Today, the farm includes tropical lowlands, tropical highlands, monsoon, semi-arid, rainforest clearing, community garden and urban garden as its areas of focus. ECHO spreads the technology it has developed through its Regional Impact Centers in Thailand, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, delivering information and improved farming practices to Asia, East Africa and West Africa, respectively.

The Importance of Seeds

Seed development and protection is a primary focus of ECHO. A heavy rain season can harm seeds for future planting and can set farmers back on producing a bountiful crop. Also, without diversifying the types of crops they grow, farmers are at risk of losing food and money without having the right seeds. ECHO in Florida is home to a seed bank that provides up to 300 different types of seeds to farmers around the world. These seeds are adaptable to different climates and terrains and help farmers diversify their crop production, allowing them to grow crops that are best suited for their environment.

Another problem that farmers face is keeping seeds dry and ready for the growing season — a difficult goal to achieve with humid climates and high temperatures. ECHO Regional Impact Center in Thailand is utilizing earthbags in its seed banks, which can keep seeds up to 16.5°C cooler than the surrounding environment. Seed drying cabinets also keep seeds dry by using heat and air circulation to keep seeds in a low humid environment so that they can be stored for a year or more.

Successful Practices

ECHO’s agricultural developments have been successfully used in communities around the world. In Togo, farmers are using resources provided by ECHO’s West Africa Regional Impact Center for the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI. SRI “reduces the need for water by half, requires only 10% of the seeds traditionally needed, and can increase yield by 20-100%.” This leads to farmers earning more than they would by using traditional farming methods. SRI is a practice that initially requires more labor and teaching to fully understand. However, with ECHO’s Regional Impact Centers, the organization is spreading the technology to help fight global hunger and poverty.

ECHO’s vital impact rests on teaching methods that farmers can share with each other. When one farmer has a successful crop, he is more likely to share the new methods he used with other farmers so that they can also have strong crop yields. This provides communities with more food, which helps to fight global hunger, and with more crops to sell, which helps lift farmers out of extreme poverty. By teaching farmers better practices that are sustainable and easily accomplished, ECHO is helping people around the world become more efficient and self-sustaining.

– Julia Canzano
Photo: Pixabay

8 Facts about Education in Thailand
While it has been successful in creating an image as a top tourist destination, Thailand faces numerous challenges. In recent years, Thailand has experienced political instability and demographic shifts, affecting its socio-economic development. A strong education system is critical for Thailand to respond to these challenges. Here are eight facts about education in Thailand.

8 Facts about Education in Thailand

  1. Declining student population: Thailand has one of the world’s most rapidly aging societies, causing a decline in the student population. The combination of this decreasing demand for education and increased competition from international universities are posing threats to the existence of Thai higher education institutions. Some Thai education experts fear that the trends could lead to the closure of up to 75 percent of higher education institutions within the next decade.
  2. Expanding basic education: Every child in Thailand has the right to receive three years of pre-primary schooling and 12 years of free basic education, regardless of their nationality or background. Approximately 95 percent of primary-school-age children attend school, but the number drops to 86 percent when it comes to the secondary school level. The majority of children who do not attend school are from disadvantaged communities, are migrants or have disabilities.
  3. Poor learning outcomes: Despite progress in expanding basic education in Thailand, the learning outcomes have not improved for Thailand. At the end of primary education, 12 percent of children do not achieve a minimum proficiency level in mathematics. Only 50 percent achieve the minimum reading proficiency and 46 percent in minimum mathematics proficiency after completing lower secondary schools. The World Bank estimates that 12 years of basic schooling for a Thai child is only equivalent to 8.6 years. This is a learning gap of 3.8 years due to under-resourced small schools.
  4.  Political repression limits academic freedom: The deep conflicts between Thailand’s traditional political establishment and the rural population majority instigated a long period of political instability in the nation, with frequent military coups in recent years. In the effort to control the chaos, the military government bans political activities and censors the media and free speech. Thai academics also have to work under strict surveillance, constantly afraid of the possibility of political reprisal and arrest.
  5. Shortage of qualified teachers in small rural schools: With falling birth rates and decreasing student populations, the number of small schools increased significantly between 1993 and 2010. These small schools are extremely costly to operate and have a hard time attracting and retaining qualified teachers. Many teachers of these institutions do not have the necessary qualifications, and the majority are inexperienced university graduates. The children receiving schooling from these institutions are often from Thailand’s poorest families and do not receive the quality education that would prepare them for a competitive workforce.
  6. Disparities between students in urban and rural areas: Thailand’s poor rural population and disadvantaged communities have significantly lower enrollment and graduation rates due to the low-performing small schools and a shortage of qualified teachers. The 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment scores revealed that students from schools in big cities made significantly greater improvements than students from small schools. Students studying science in rural areas are behind their peers in urban areas by more than a year of schooling, and more than half of the small rural school students will be functionally illiterate.
  7.  Improved training for teachers: Training used to be centralized with very few urban schools, making it accessible to a selective number of teachers. The Ministry of Education now provides online registration for teacher training courses and aims to offer online training eventually, increasing access for teachers from rural areas. The government also provides $300 worth of credits annually for teachers to register for training courses, and it is working to increase the variety of courses in more places in the country.
  8.  School consolidation plan: Thailand’s Office of Basic Education (OBEC) plans to consolidate half of the small and under-resourced schools with nearby larger schools to provide better learning opportunities for children from the most disadvantaged communities and to solve a teacher shortage. This plan will affect approximately 11,000 small schools if implemented. At least 2,700 small schools considered to be geographically necessary will not be affected and stay open.
These eight facts about education in Thailand show the achievements and challenges of the education system. Despite Thailand’s achievements in expanding access to basic education, the quality of education that the children receive remains a big issue for the nation. Investing in improving the education system is crucial for Thailand to achieve sustainable growth and harness its most valuable and powerful resource: the children.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Significance of Street Food CultureThailand has refreshing somtam, Mumbai, India has bhel puri and South Africa has a snack of bunny chow. What do these diverse dishes all have in common? They are some of the most notable street foods in their respective countries and vital to the daily lives of citizens, demonstrating the significance of street food culture.

Resourceful but innovative, street foods have a long history in many countries around the world. The foods are reflective of local and traditional cultures. Around 2.5 billion people eat street food around the world. It is one of the few things yet to be significantly touched by capitalist influence.

Perceived Risks

Not everyone thinks so positively about street food and its vendors. Some government officials around the world are concerned about food safety, sanitation problems, traffic congestion and taking up physical space. The greatest fear is of diseases caused by food lowering tourism rates.

Though these risks should not be disregarded, there is much more to street food culture that should be recognized by the greater public. In 2006, the International Labour Office did a thorough report of street food vendors in Bangkok, Thailand by interviewing numerous case studies from mobile to fixed vendors. Specifically, with fixed vendors, the report says: “More than 80 percent of vendors reported that their earnings were adequate,” and “88 percent reported to be satisfied with their occupation.”

The significance of street food culture in preserving global communities is evident in the following areas of cultural empowerment, employment opportunities and accessibility.

Cultural Empowerment

A large part of the significance of street food culture is its ability to create a familial network within specific global communities and enhance levels of inclusivity. The liveliness of street food makes streets vibrant and daily routines colorful. It catches the attention of those from every social class which breaks down barriers.

Additionally, the street food industry protects traditional recipes that run through ancestry lines. Food stalls are often owned and handled by a family. This makes the business an opportunity for multiple generations in the present and the future. Current generations are able to learn about where they have come from and where their country is going, culturally and socially.

Employment and Business Opportunities

Since street food stalls are micro-businesses, it is possible for newcomers to create their own stalls with only a small amount of money. They also have the potential to earn back gains in the long run. Cooking or selling food is commonly the first job for many migrants and women, providing real-life opportunities. Vendors also aid the businesses of small farms and markets by buying ingredients from them. The street food industry has offered new positions for employment. Therefore, it has prevented vulnerable social groups from slipping further into poverty.

A city authority report in Tanzania found that the street vending industry employed more than one million people in 2014. Also, in Hanoi, Vietnam, street vending makes up a six percent share of total employment and an 11 percent share of informal total employment, making the vending sector a significant employer.

Street food is considered part of the informal sector of the economy. However, the industry has developed its own self-sufficient economy without outside assistance. The underestimated sales of street food are contributing to the economy of developing countries. This is another aspect of the significance of street food culture.

Food Accessibility

The significance of street food culture also includes improved access to food across countries, including their poor communities. In the 1990s, the United Nations recognized street food as an overlooked method of distributing food to communities. Street food provides sustenance and nutrition to major groups of the population and helps to keep food security stable.

Since the cooks have low operation and maintenance costs, street foods are low in cost. People with very little to no income depend on street foods every day to support themselves and their families.

Nonprofits like InnoAid are supporting the street vending sector. The organization co-created an educational toolkit for street vendors in India that promotes alignment with the National Act of Urban Street Vendors. It includes training materials on hygiene, collaboration and workspace improvements. Adhering to these aspects of the project will add to its sustainability and benefits for vendors. The project has already helped more than 600 vendors through these entrepreneurial activities and is in the process of implementing a large-scale development project.

With support and increased research on the significance of street food culture, assumptions and overall suspicion of the industry can be reduced. Improving the reputation of street foods could help to preserve culturally significant recipes, provide employment opportunities and supply low-cost food options.

-Melina Benjamin

Photo: Flickr

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 the 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 AIDS

Thailand 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 ThailandIn 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