Community-based programs, NGOs and privately-run social initiatives are actively involved in areas where Thailand military government support is not sufficient. Often the junta-led “government” projects are cosmetic, and fail to provide much-need policy changes that would greatly improve quality of life.
However efforts are still being made in forging partnerships between NGOs and the government. It’s a fact that the role of an NGO is important especially in the rural parts of the country where poverty incidence is high.
One of my concerns is rural micro-finance programs implemented by NGOs and provincial/federal authorities. Such programs provide valuable services to the rural poor although I have yet to see indicators of accountability and transparency in the financial aspects of these programs. There’s also the issue of questionable deliverables (unachievable expectations, low capacity) and the late dispersement of monies to the stakeholders.
Core problems of social programming are often related to the lack of participation in democratic decision-making. Perhaps some NGOs and officials do not want to see an empowered marginalized community to make informed decisions and lobby for their rights. In this case, from the absence of their rights to a transparent process of not just the budget allocation but also to the conceptualization and project monitoring.
I once mentioned to someone from a reputable local “poverty eradication” NGO that its within their interest to encourage communities to be part and parcel of problem-solving in the programs. But rather than consider and consult the stakeholders about this issue, the officer was rather defensive about the state of affairs. Apparently foreigners do not understand ‘Thainess’ and as such have no business expressing my views. It could also be that he and his organization prefer the comfort zone of prescribing solutions to the communities, rather than consultation.
Anyway as the national economy plunges, its difficult to not come to the conclusion that corruption will increase and that marginalized communities will be extremely vulnerability; as flawed systems, pride and human greed override the original objective of community-service.
Economic growth can help reduce poverty through an increase in household income, providing earnings to obtain the minimum basic needs. That being said, equality and other rights-based concerns must be tackled by all parties to enable a reduction of poverty. I’m not so sure whether the junta realise this, or maybe they just don’t care. I wonder.