Individuals served in FY18: 530
- Population: Over 69 million
- Urbanization: 49.9 percent live in cities
- Life expectancy: 75.3 years
- Unemployment rate: 0.7 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 8.6 percent
Source: World Factbook, World Bank
Habitat for Humanity in Thailand
Habitat for Humanity began working in Thailand in the northeastern province of Udon Thani in 1998. Since July 2007, Habitat Thailand has been operating through its national office in Bangkok and zone offices located in Chiangmai (North), Rayong (Northeast), Pathumthnee (Central) and Phangnga (South).
The housing need in Thailand
Thailand is often cited for its success in pulling millions of people out of poverty, thanks to rapid economic growth over the past few decades. According to the World Bank, poverty declined substantially over the last 30 years from 67 percent in 1986 to 7.2 percent in 2015 during periods of high growth and rising agricultural prices. However, poverty and inequality continue to pose significant challenges. As of 2014, over 80 percent of the country’s 7.1 million poor live in rural areas. Moreover, an additional 6.7 million were living within 20 percent above the national poverty line and remained vulnerable to falling back into poverty. Although inequality has declined over the past 30 years, pockets of poverty remain in the northeast, north, and deep south.
How Habitat addresses the need in Thailand
Habitat for Humanity Thailand was established in 1998 with the aim of improving the Thais’ quality of life through building homes and transforming communities. It works with like-minded partners to achieve a lasting, positive impact through holistic development and sustainable change. Habitat Thailand has partnered with 11,500 families or over 46,000 people to build, repair and rehabilitate their homes. Based on the needs of families and communities in Thailand, Habitat and its partners also implement community development programs that provide training in livelihood options and assistance in setting up home-based businesses. In addition, health centers, multipurpose community centers, school libraries, vegetable greenhouses, and water and sanitation facilities are also built. Corporate partners include Korean Reinsurance, Destination Asia, Thrivent, Bain & Company, Dow, HMC Polymer, Cargill, Ananda Development & Partners, Siam Commercial Bank, Seagate, Caterpillar, Nissan, Cigna, Bank of America, P&G, Credit Suisse, HMC Polymer, Hilton Pattaya, Benefit Cosmetics and HSBC. Local and International schools and universities also lend a hand.
Build decent, affordable housing
Habitat for Humanity Thailand works with partners to build, repair or rehabilitate homes with families living below the national poverty line and vulnerable groups. Construction costs are brought down through volunteer labor, gifts-in-kind from corporate donors and donation of soil for land reclamation from the local government, among others.
Flooding in Thailand is an annual occurrence. Following the devastating floods in 2011, Habitat Thailand distributed clean-up kits and emergency shelter kits to nearly 4,000 families in 11 provinces. Habitat also helped more than 1,400 families to rebuild their homes and lives. In addition, 32 schools were rehabilitated and four multipurpose buildings were built in Ayutthaya and Phitsanulok provinces. In response to widespread flooding that hit several southern provinces in January 2017, Habitat Thailand distributed hygiene kits containing items for cleaning up houses to affected families in Trang province. The longer term focus is on helping disaster-affected families to rebuild or rehabilitate their houses.
Community development programs
Throughout Thailand, Habitat has built and/or rehabilitated school dormitories, assembly area domes, libraries, playgrounds and improved water and sanitation facilities in local schools and communities. Under its community development program, Habitat Thailand has helped schools to build greenhouses and start fish farms. The fresh produce is consumed during school lunches while excess is sold to the community, providing another source of income for the schools.
Thailand is one of the favorite destinations for Global Village volunteers from all over the world. In 2017, Habitat Thailand built with teams from the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Domestic volunteer efforts continue to be strong with support from local and international educational institutions and open one-day builds.
Meet a Habitat family
When Kasem built his first house with his wife about 20 years ago, he was happily looking forward to a brighter future. His life fell apart when his wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Kasem’s wife died in 2000, leaving him and his two sons behind. After paying for Kasem’s wife’s medical treatment, the family was left with no savings and a dilapidated house that they could not afford to repair. His family’s life changed after Kasem built a new house in partnership with Habitat Thailand. In April 2018, Kasem and his family moved into their two-bedroom Habitat home. “Our new house is like a fortress. It protects us and our precious assets. It also gives privacy to our female guests and relatives. We are happy that gradually we are able to fulfill our dream of leading a good life,” says Kasem.