in coastal regions and in small islands
A place for indigenous people in protected areas, Surin Islands, Andaman Sea, Thailand
|Site visit:15-16th December, 2000 (Cambers/Kuijper).
Gillian Cambers, University of Puerto Rico; Hans Thulstrup, Regional Science Adviser, UNESCO/Apia (not closely associated with the project); Narumon Hinshiranan, Chulalongkorn University, (field-project leader); Maarten Kuijper, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Organization, Bangkok, Thailand (closely associated with the project).
|Activities:||A visit was made to the Surin Islands (Cambers/Kuijper), arriving there at 0930 on 15-12-00 and departing at 1000 on 16-12-00. (The Surin Islands are quite difficult to reach, firstly it is necessary to fly from Bangkok to Phuket, then to drive about 85 miles to Khuraburi, and then take a 3-4 hour ferry trip. In addition the islands are only accessible between November and May, when sea conditions are smoother). Visits were made to the two Moken villages and discussions were held with persons in the villages and the fisheries representatives at Sai Ane Bay on Ko Surin Nua. Accommodation was provided at the National Park Headquarters, and a visit was made to Mai Ngam Bay via the trail. Following the assessment visit, there were detailed discussions between the four persons involved in the assessment through meetings and e-mail.|
|Constraints:||Some constraints were encountered in carrying out
this first project assessment, which point to a need for more thorough advance
planning preparations in the
future. It should be recognized,
however, that to a large extent, the timing of the assessment visit was
determined by the presence of the external assessor (Gillian Cambers) in the
region to participate in the workshop in Samoa on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for
Sustainable Human Development in Small Island Developing States’.
The main constraints were as
Field Project Assessment
The sixteen characteristics, used to define ‘wise
practices’, are used here to assess this field project.
A qualitative scale is used as follows:
|None (0):||The field project activities to date do not comply with this characteristic and/or the characteristic is not relevant.|
|Slightly (1-3):||The field project activities to date have begun in some preliminary way to satisfy this characteristic.|
|Partially (4-6):||The field project activities to date have gone some significant way towards fulfilling this characteristic.|
|Fully (7-9):|| The field project activities to date have gone
the full way to complying with this
This assessment is
based only on the activities undertaken to date, and does not include those
planned for the future.
|Have the project
activities ensured long term benefit?
The Ko Surin National Park was established in 1981, under
the National Parks Act (1961). Under this legislation, settlements, other than
those of the Park authorities, are prohibited in the park as is the exploitation
and extraction of natural resources in the park.
However, since the Moken people had permanent settlements in the park
before it was established, and since that they did not hold official Thai
citizenship – which would have allowed them to be resettled elsewhere in the
country - their presence has been tolerated. Through dialogue with the present
Park Superintendent, the project has led to a better understanding of the way of
life of the Moken people and their needs to sustain a livelihood on the island.
The project activities are beginning to improve the livelihood of the
Moken people by improving their skills to produce marketable handicrafts, this
will ultimately reduce their dependency on the park authorities for handouts
such as rice and oil.
|Do the project activities provide for capacity building and institutional strengthening?||
|The project activities are contributing to capacity
building by beginning to change the attitude of the Park authorities to the
Moken. This is being gradually
achieved through workshops, interaction with visiting students and researchers,
and informal discussions. However,
many of the Park workers are impatient to see quick and concrete results from
the project such as the start-up of giant clam farming and handicraft training
for the Moken. Another factor
relates to the limited ability of the Moken people to negotiate through official
channels, such as with the Park Superintendent. Usually the Moken prefer to
voice their concerns and complaints to others, e.g. fisheries officials, park
staff, visiting researchers and occasionally tourists.
|Are the project activities sustainable?||Slightly (2)|
|To date, all the activities have been very dependent on the
pilot project leader, Dr. Narumon Hinshiranan, since she is the only person who
can communicate properly with the Moken and whom they appear to trust.
Improving the livelihood of the Moken is one of her main research and
personal interests, however, she is also a very busy person. In Dr.
Hinshiranan’s opinion, the Moken people appeared to trust the students who
were involved in the resource assessment study. Dr. Hinshiranan has one student who will do a thesis on the
Moken of the Surin Islands in 2002, and another student who plans to do a thesis
on the Urak Lawoi of Lanta Island in Krabi Province (part of this island also
belongs to the National Park) in 2001.
As these students spend time in the villages and learn the languages,
they will gain more trust from the Moken and Urak Lawoi.
In addition, Dr. Hinshiranan took seven students and four volunteer
doctors/dentists to a Moken community in Lao Island in October 2000.
(This visit was originally planned to see the Moken in the Surin Islands,
but it had to be cancelled because of bad weather). Most of these volunteers
have promised to support the project when they can. This points to the need for
a good public relations programme and a website.
|Have the project activities been transferred?||
|One of the project activities, the production of the school primer on the Moken way of life, has been transferred to other sea tribes in the Andaman Sea. (This particular activity also has potential application to the field project on the Motu Koitabu people in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea).|
|Are the project activities interdisciplinary and intersectoral?||
|The project activities involve several different disciplines: environmental and social sciences, culture, education and communication. They also involve several different sectors of society: government officials, the Moken, researchers, students, visitors to the park.|
|Do the project activities incorporate participatory processes?||
|In Thailand the participatory process is rather uncommon.
In consultative workshops, the Moken people tend to use intermediaries
such as Dr. Hinshiranan as their advocate. Moreover, in such meetings, the
majority of government officials demonstrate a high regard for the hierarchical
system and are unlikely to oppose the views/statements of their superiors.
Academics have greater freedom to voice their opinions, and as such are often
used as intermediaries by government officials to voice particular points. Thus the project has had to develop appropriate techniques of
communication and participation by organising separate as well as combined
consultations for different groups.
|Do the project activities provide for consensus building?||
|All the participants in the stakeholder workshops
understood that the Moken should be allowed to continue to live in the park,
even if the law dictates otherwise. The
challenge is to build on this consensus and to find ways to reconcile the
different interests of the park on the one hand and the Moken people on the
|Do the project activities include an effective and efficient communication process?||
|Dr. Hinshiranan, who is based in Bangkok (several hours away), can only spend limited time on the project. She is the ‘middle-person’ negotiating with the Moken and with the Park authorities. Direct communication between the park authorities and the Moken is limited and is not actively pursued by the authorities. Often the Moken voice their concerns to the fisheries officials, who do not always relay them to the park authorities.|
|Are the project activities culturally respectful?||
|All activities to date have fully taken into account the traditions and culture of the various stakeholder groups.|
|Do the project activities take into account gender and/or sensitivity issues?||
During the stakeholder meetings in 1998, Moken
representatives, both men and women, had the chance to voice their concerns.
Sexual harassment (physical and verbal) by temporary Park workers was one
of the issues raised. The Park
Superintendent was informed and the workers in question were fired. Similar
stakeholder meetings need to be held regularly, perhaps every two years, so as
to provide a forum for voicing concerns and promoting understanding.
There are many widows in the Moken community, since the
men’s work is hard and risky and they are more susceptible to substance abuse.
The widows have few ways to earn an income. The project supports handicraft work
by the widows, by buying their products and trying to find suitable markets.
Further training is needed particularly in improving the intricacy of the
craft products, which will raise their market value and also require less raw
|Do the project activities strengthen local identities?||
|The project activities seek to strengthen the Moken’s
ethnic identity and promote pride in their cultural heritage. However, it is
going to take a considerable time to realise this goal.
Future activities, such as issuing the Moken with identity cards, will
guarantee their local identity as native residents of the Surin Islands.
|Do the project activities shape national legal policy?||
|The 1997 constitution calls for strict enforcement of the
laws that are concerned with natural resources, including the National Parks Act
under which the Ko Surin National Park was established.
This law (as described under the ‘long-term benefit characteristic’)
prohibits settlement within national parks as well as the exploitation and
extraction of natural resources. Changing the legislation is not the goal of this project, but
seeking pragmatic solutions that will shape the implementation of the law is one
of the goals.
|Do the project activities encompass the regional dimension?||
|This project has a somewhat unique regional perspective in
that many of the Andaman Sea tribes move between Myanmar and Thailand with
little regard for political boundaries. The
problems created by indigenous people residing in protected areas, under the
Royal Forestry Department’s jurisdiction, is not unique to the Moken.
Indeed the Moken receive relatively little attention because of the small
population and the fact that they are not a threat to national security, unlike
some of the hill tribes. The
lessons learnt in this project have the potential to be transferred to other
|Do the project activities provide for human rights?||
|The project activities are centred around the right of the
Moken people to make their home on the island and to use its resources for their
livelihood. However, since the
Moken people at present have no rights to live on the islands, there is a long
way to go. It is hoped that the Park authorities will continue to
tolerate the Moken living in the park and thus acknowledge this basic human
to freedom of movement and residence within the area.
|Have the project activities been documented?||
|Have the project activities been evaluated?||
|This present evaluation is the first such exercise.|
Revised Future Project Activities
Evaluate the usefulness of the primer: Conduct
a simple evaluation, with the assistance of local teachers, before distributing
the primer, and again six months afterwards, to determine its effectiveness in
developing an understanding locally about the Moken people. (The results of such
an evaluation will also be useful for other pilot projects such as the Motu
Koitabu in Papua New Guinea).
dialogue between the park authorities and the Moken via Dr. Hinshiranan and
through other intermediaries if they can be identified, such as Moken
representatives from the two villages who might become spokespersons for the
Assess the health
situation and needs of the Moken people and improve their awareness of
health and dental care. Conduct a
social survey to understand the population size and dynamics.
This activity was scheduled for late 2000, but was rescheduled to early
2001 due to weather conditions.
vocational training workshop to enhance the Moken’s ability to produce
good quality handicrafts based on their traditional skills, patterns and
techniques, and to provide for the proper storage of the handicraft products.
inter school exchanges between children from the adjacent mainland province
and the Moken children. This may
generate a spin-off effect such that relationships between the fisheries
officers, the park rangers and the Moken are improved.
additional resource assessment surveys of certain over-exploited edible fish
species and sea cucumbers, with university students and carefully designed methodology to supplement the earlier resource
assessments. (These earlier assessments produced some conflicting results partly
due to non-standardised methodology).
establish a dedicated website for the project, this could include the report
on the consultative workshops and a summary of the initial resource assessment
studies. This would help recruit
volunteers for the project and would help networking with other projects
involving indigenous people in Thailand’s protected areas.
for the Moken to sell handicrafts directly to the park visitors, such as
establishing a handicrafts selling point combined with boat building activities
for visitors at the beach opposite Park Headquarters at Ko Surin Tai.
This would reduce the need for visitors to go to the Moken villages to
contributions for the ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human
Development Forum’ on aspects of the field project.
A proposal has been prepared by CSI/Culture for
funding with Japanese Funds in Trust to
reinvigorate the oral traditions of the Andaman Sea tribes, including the
Moken and the Urak Lawoi, through the analysis of old legends and animated
discussions. This proposal focuses
on intangible culture, e.g. dance, legends, language. Following a radio programme by Dr. Hinshiranan, related
activities have already commenced, in particular some students from the
Department of Mass Communications at Chulalongkorn University are planning to
produce a cassette tape on Moken children’s stories and folk tales.
A Coastal Zone Management project developed by DANCED
for southern Thailand will include among other things, a master plan for Ko
Surin. Contacts between this CSI
field project and the larger initiative need to be enhanced, so as to supplement
and advance activities on-the-ground, without duplication.