Post-Disaster Rehabilitation and Displacement: The Case of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in Thailand (17064)
This presentation draws on two case studies on the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami on communities in Southern Thailand. I first discuss how a Moklen community in Phang Nga Province was affected by the various post-disaster recovery efforts.As the traditional livelihoods of the Moklen people of Tungwa community were dependent on close access to the sea, they were particularly negatively affected by the tsunami which claimed a high number of lives among them. An in-depth study of the rehabilitation efforts suggests that the Moklen people have become more vulnerable after the tsunami disaster due to hasty rebuilding of their settlement and persistent conflicts with expanding tourist resorts and reduced access to the natural resources they depend on. After the withdrawal of external assistance from foreign donors and Thai NGOs and in the absence of a supportive legal and institutional framework, the Moklen find themselves exposed to local pressure to relocate from this prime tourism area, where land prices have skyrocketed after the rehabilitation of infrastructure in the post-tsunami recovery process.The second case study looks into the particular case of the expanding birds’ nest business in one coastal community that had suffered from nearly complete destruction by the tsunami. The results show that the production of birds’ nests in specially designed buildings has primarily benefited the wealthier and politically well-connected families in the village and outside investors who own more than half of the birds’ nest houses. The study demonstrates that post-disaster economic recovery can deepen income disparities and may disrupt the sense of community if local elites and absentee business owners are able to take advantage of the lack of sound governance structures in the aftermath of a major natural disaster. The major policy implications of the two case studies is that aid organizations and civil society need to pay more attention to the local politics of post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation processes in order to avoid widening social and economic disparities, enhance accountability of all actors involved in the governance of post-disaster recovery processes and mitigate the marginalization and displacement of small entrepreneurs and vulnerable ethnic minority groups.