Individuals served in FY17: 435
- Population: Over 68.9 million
- Urbanization: 52.7 percent live in cities
- Life expectancy: 74.9 years
- Unemployment rate: 0.8 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 7.2 percent
Source: World Factbook
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
Single mother Somrudee, 42, laborer, used to worry constantly when she was living in run-down conditions with her only son Nong Pong who has special needs. When heavy rains and strong winds hit, she was afraid that the roof would be torn off. She was also scared of going to the toilet at night. All these changed when she built a new house in Kanchanaburi province with Habitat for Humanity Thailand in November 2017. “I don’t have to pray for my roof not to be blown away when it rained. It is not scary going to the toilet at night as the toilet is now built inside the house.” She also feels more connected with the local community. Thankful for the positive changes, she said: “I had never realized that having a secure house could give me such peace of mind.”