Sometimes, it takes a change of course to find sustainable solutions for an emergency situation. This is the case in Thailand, where camps for Burmese and Karen refugees formed 20 years ago have turned into semi-permanent settlements.
For more than 17 years, Malteser International has been providing comprehensive health care services in the refugee camps in the Mae Hong Son province. These services have come hand in hand with the construction of water supply systems and latrines for the refugees in the camps Mae Ra Ma Luang and Mae La Oon.
Since January 2011, Malteser International is implementing a new project on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), in which the emergency approach of the past is transformed into a strategy for sustainable development. The goal is to strengthen the population’s ability to develop long-term solutions by actively involving the affected communities in and around the camps in decision-making and the implementation of WASH measures.
For more than 20 years, refugees from Myanmar have been fleeing to Thailand to seek refuge from human rights abuses and fighting between armed opposition groups and the Burmese military. Around 150,000 refugees live in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. Over the last five years, a large-scale resettlement programme has allowed many refugees to immigrate to other countries. However, resettlement is only an option for a part of the population. There remains a pressing need to achieve comprehensive solutions for the refugees who will stay in Thailand for at least the next few years, or until voluntary repatriation is possible.
The new WASH project, which is co-financed by the EU, is designed in a way to transfer all WASH-related activities in the camps from the previous NGO-run system to a community-based management model. That means that the population is now responsible for planning, implementing and monitoring the water and sanitation systems from which they benefit. And, because it is also important to consider the environmental and health situation of the entire region, the residents in the surrounding villages also participate in and benefit from the project.
To ensure access to water, sanitary facilities and hygiene measures as well as to enhance the population’s self-help capacity in the WASH area through empowered and trained communities in the refugee camps of Mae Ra Ma Luang and Mae La Oon and the surrounding villages.
|Duration:||Since January 2011|
|Financing:||EuropeAid, Malteser International|
Ministry of Interior (Thailand), Highland Research and Development Institute, local residents and camp communities