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Better health for refugees and locals

For more than 20 years, residents of Myanmar, mostly from the Karen ethnic group, have fled to Thailand to seek refuge from human rights abuses, and conflict between armed opposition groups and the Myanmar military.

Malteser International has been working in the North of Thailand since 1993 – not only in the refugee camps at the Thai-Myanmar border but also since 2009 in the widely-scattered mountain villages located around the camps where people lack access to medical facilities, reliable water sources and earning opportunities. The project sought to tackle discrepancies in the living conditions between the camps and the surrounding villages. The intervention, formerly only concerned with health, has since been transformed into a comprehensive development program also focusing on nutrition, WASH and livelihood aspects. Moreover, the project aims to increase the self-help capacities of the local community, as well as health committees and health workers in villages and camps.

Due to Myanmar’s ongoing process of democratization, a large number of refugees are likely to return to their home country in the near future. However, no long term solution is yet in place and the c. 110,000 refugees continue to live on the Thai side of the border. It remains essential to provide health care, nutrition, and access to water and sanitation facilities in the camps and villages as well as simultaneously preparing stakeholders and residents for a possible repatriation. Furthermore, as livelihood opportunities in the Thai villages remain limited, additional income-generating measures for the village dwellers need to be introduced.

The project aims to sustainably maintain and improve the health situation of refugees in the camps along the Thai-Myanmar border, as well as the Thai population living nearby, while simultaneously increasing self-reliance, mutual understanding and co-operation in the fields of mother and child health, nutrition, livelihood and WASH.

Mother and Child Health Care and Nutrition:

  • Promote and provide ante-natal and post-natal care
  • Promote safe pregnancies and safe deliveries in camp health facilities as well as  in Thai health facilities through referral when nescessary
  • Immunization of children and new arrivals
  • Supplementary and therapeutic feeding for malnourished children incl. cooking demonstrations

Water, Sanitation, Hygiene:

  • Maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure
  • Waste management and disposal
  • Soap production and provision
  • Water Shed Management
  • Vector Control
  • Capacity Building
  • Support and strengthen local health committees
  • Awareness raising through the conduction of promotional health and hygiene campaigns
  • Training/Capacity building of camp staff


  • Training and implementation of livelihood activities and income-generating measures related to health, nutrition and WASH

Country info

Capital: Bangkok
Area: 513,120 km²
Population: c. 67 Million

Project data

Project duration: since Februaruy 2015
Donors: EuropeAid, ADH - Germany's Relief Coalition, World Child Future Foundation, Thai.Ger Supporters, private donations
Partners: Highland Research and Development Institute, local health authorities, Village committees, Karen Refugee Committee, Camp Comitees

Last updated: July 2016

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