Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Tsunami after six months: UN Supports Thailand in building back better

Thailand, 23 Jun 2005 -- In Thailand the emergency phase was mostly over within two months of the tsunami, and the country is now well into the recovery phase. The Government – with support from the United Nations Country Team – is now moving towards longer term rehabilitation and recovery in four key areas: social protection, livelihood recovery, environmental rehabilitation and disaster preparedness.

[…] The Royal Thai Government is widely acknowledged to have led an effective response, encompassing prompt provision of health services, construction of temporary shelter and permanent homes, use of military assets to support the tsunami-affected region, compensation to survivors, and a major forensic body identification operation. Thailand did not appeal for international financial assistance, but welcomed technical assistance in support of its relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

The United Nations system in Thailand immediately mobilized both funds and a wide variety of technical expertise for emergency relief operations in the first two weeks, worth 2.6 million USD, providing assistance in many sectors through its specialized agencies, from restoration of water/sanitation services for 2,000 families in temporary shelter; procurement of equipment to facilitate body identification; survival inputs to more than 3,000 farmers and fisherpeople; emergency rations to 3,000 vulnerable families; as well as working with government partners on several key rapid needs assessments.

There has been no need for large-scale food assistance, a relatively small proportion of the population has been displaced, and there have been only localized and quickly restored disruptions to water/sanitation, health services and education in Thailand. However, the tsunami caused significant psychological trauma for children and adults. More than 1,200 children lost one or both parents while thousands of families have lost livelihoods and property. […]

The UN Country Team has been delivering technical assistance oriented towards mid-long term recovery, with a ‘build back better’ approach, using the tsunami as an opportunity to help communities develop beyond the process of rebuilding what has been destroyed.

Thailand now has an opportunity to ensure that sustainability is a key focus of livelihood development in the fishing and tourism industries. For example, FAO provided fishing inputs to fisherfolk in order to assist their income generation and restore livelihood; UNDP is working with local government and NGOs on community-based livelihood recovery for vulnerable Sea Gypsy and Muslim groups, as well as establishing community-managed finance for 30 villages; ILO and UNDP are supporting skills development and income-generating activities for tourism workers and small businesses in Phuket and Phang Nga provinces.

This approach can also be applied to policy and practice in coastal zoning management. In support of this, FAO is undertaking in-depth assessments in coastal fisheries, agriculture and forestry, to develop viable approaches to offset the impact of marine disasters and build back a sustainable livelihood system, and UNEP is promoting eco-tourism initiatives in national parks.

[…] Looking ahead, the United Nations and the Government of Thailand are working together to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of future disasters in the region. Initiated by UNOCHA, a national ‘lessons learned’ workshop was held in Bangkok at the end of May. […] Recommendations and follow-on actions were suggested, including strengthening institutional and legal frameworks for disaster preparedness and response; cooperating regionally on establishing multi-hazard early warning systems; and promoting risk awareness and emergency preparedness. UNESCO is also supporting long-term community disaster preparedness initiatives, while WHO is contributing to Thailand’s improvement of health services in disaster-prone areas.

More information at: