There is an urgent need for civil society to promote poverty eradication, education, philanthropy, and democracy amongst the people of Thailand and Southeast Asia in general. This will ensure that future generations do not have to suffer through repeated political crises, which significantly harm the long-term economic outlook and well-being of ASEAN nations.
The Village Development Partnership (VDP) is a serious endeavor to empower rural communities to eradicate poverty and improve their quality of life. It is a genuine partnership between the villagers and a sponsoring company or organization, which helps to advance the public interest.
The current model has had over 22 years of trial and error. It has clearly demonstrated to be a successful and sustainable formula of empowerment and self-help that has to do with shared responsibilities and shared opportunities.
The VDP addresses issues in five key areas of: community empowerment, economic development, environment, health, and education. The process begins with villagers establishing a Village Development Committee to hold hearings to articulate the needs and aspirations of the community, and then to establish the Village Development Plan. The committee comprises youth, middle-aged, and the elderly, of whom 50% must be women.
What area of socioeconomic success in the short run is doomed to fade away, unless there is a strong commitment to empowerment. Thus, the Village Development Committee establishes a clear and strong sense of ownership that will continuously benefit the community in the long term. In the end, the VIllage Development Committee becomes a permanent people's institution for the village.
Experience has also shown that next to community empowerment is the need to introduce business skills and access to credit in an attempt to raise income and eradicate poverty. Funds for economic development and the other activities are given to these villagers in exchange for tree-planting at a rate of 40 Baht (US$1.25) per tree.
The key to village improvement is through idea generation. On average, the funds required to help the village on its way to self-help and sustainability are approximately 3,000 Baht (US$100) per villager for the investment by the sponsoring company or organization.