Donor Thailand aiding neighbors in South-South cooperation

THAILAND FOCUS | October 3, 2016

5-donor2Despite being a developing nation and aid recipient, Thailand has a sterling record of providing aid and assistance to less developed countries, particularly in the region, donating funds and expertise to build capacities and knowledge, according to aid officials who spoke to The Development Newswire last week.

“Thailand has silently demonstrated over the last decade that countries don’t need to be considered ‘developed’ or rich to give back. Despite being classified as an upper middle-income nation and an aid recipient, Thailand is also a donor. The rationale, aid officials [said], is that south-south cooperation works,” the Development Newswire (Devex) said in a story on its website published last week.

The newswire serves the international development community, including United Nations agencies and private sector organizations such as CARE, Plan, Oxfam, along with academic and other institutions promoting aid and development around the world.

Thailand’s quiet record of providing aid and assistance to other countries is evidence of its commitment to being a good global citizen, despite challenges and criticisms it has faced in recent years over domestic and transnational problems it is battling, such as human trafficking, labor abuse and wildlife trafficking. The Kingdom is far from the only nation grappling with those issues, and its record on all of them has been improving.

Thailand has disbursed over $500 million in official development assistance (ODA), also referred to simply as foreign aid, during the period 2006 through 2014, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“The bulk of the country’s development assistance has gone towards scholarships, capacity development programs, and training courses in its neighboring countries including Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. Yet footprints of Thailand’s aid portfolio can be seen around the world, with about 58 countries tallied as recipients since 2006, according to OECD data,” Devex wrote.

Africa is another region where Thailand has donated funds, expertise and trainings. “We believe that countries in Africa are in need of ODA and we believe we have the expertise and technology that can be applied to those countries,” said Paisan Rupanichkij, deputy director general of Thailand’s International Cooperation Agency (TICA), adding that development projects are also being targeted towards new countries, particularly in the Pacific region.

“We are an emerging donor. We are not comparing our financial resources with other major donors like JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), but we do have a wealth of expertise, know-how, and technology that could be applicable to other developing countries,” Rupanichkij said.

The Kingdom has been well known among developing nations for sharing its expertise and experience in areas in which has demonstrated strength, such as public health and agriculture. In addition, lessons and expertise from the development work of constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej has also been sought by other nations in areas such as artificial rain making and his “Sufficiency Philosophy” of development, which stresses self reliance, resilience and harmony with the environment.