Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

Pilot Project Summary
A place for indigenous people in protected areas, Surin Islands, Andaman Sea, Thailand

Revision Date: 15th January 2003
Title:  A place for indigenous people in protected areas, Surin Islands, Andaman Sea, Thailand.

(1) To encourage the maintenance of appropriate technology and 'wise practice' through the understanding and appreciation of the indigenous knowledge (2) To promote sustainable livelihood of the Moken and to ensure the continuity of indigenous cultural pride and identity (3) To provide a model of cultural and natural environmental conservation to be adapted to other islands with a similar context

(2) To promote sustainable livelihood of the Moken and to ensure the continuity of indigenous cultural pride and identity

(3) To provide a model of cultural and natural environmental conservation to be adapted to other islands with a similar context

Location: Surin Islands National Park, Phang-nga Province, Thailand.
Starting date: 1998, the project has been divided into several phases.

Surin Islands National Park Administration; Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute; various other governmental and non-governmental organizations; UNESCO: Culture Sector (Bangkok Office), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Western Pacific Office (Bangkok), Coastal Regions and Small Islands platform.

Pilot project leader: Dr. Narumon Hinshiranan, Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University, Phyathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand. Tel: (66-2) 218-7375, Fax: (66-2) 255-2353. e-mail hnarumon@chula.ac.th
Description: The project started with three stakeholder workshops held between 1998 and 1999, during which government officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics and the Moken met to identify crucial issues and sustainable development options for the Moken. The results of the workshops have been described in the publication Indigenous people and parks: the Surin Islands project. Following this initial planning stage a number of project activities have been implemented:
(1) Interdisciplinary resource assessment studies. These studies started in December 1999 and were conducted by eight graduate students. They surveyed the biological aspects of Moken resource use and its impact on the natural ecosystem, and examined the indigenous knowledge of terrestrial and marine resources and the traditional conservation practices. The recommendations were presented to the Park authority in May 2000. The information on ethnobotany has been incorporated into trail guide booklets which have been published by Think Earth Project and distributed to visitors. During 2002, an anthropology student has conducted fieldwork on the islands to gather data on indigenous knowledge of marine resources and to identify foraging patches/areas in Moken 'mental maps.'
(2) Primer production and distribution. Illustrated primers or additional reading materials in four languages (Moken, Urak Lawoi, Thai, and English) have been published. These contain 20 short texts portraying Moken's and Urak Lawoi's marine livelihood, boat travel, important rituals, curing practice, legends etc. The primers have been distributed to several agencies and institutes since early 2000. The Ministry of Education granted permission for formal distribution to schools in six southern provinces in January 2001.
(3) Supporting the production of various media and art forms to foster understanding and appreciation of indigenous culture. The project partly supported the trip to the islands by lecturers and students from the Faculty of Mass Communication Art, Chulalongkorn University. The students collected information on Moken oral traditions and wrote a play based on a Moken legend. The play 'Sibian' was performed at the Faculty of Communication Art in October 2002 and will be on stage again during the Chula Exhibition in December 2002. The future release includes an audio tape of Urak Lawoi children stories. An art teacher from the Children's Foundation was invited to give a water-color painting lesson to the Moken children on the Surin Islands and the Moklen children on the Phrathong Island in January 2002. Ten pieces of the children's paintings were selected for an art exhibit held at the Landmark Hotel in Bangkok in October 2002.
(4) Proposal for citizenship application. Most Moken do not have citizenship or identification cards. This presents a problem especially for those married to Thais or living in coastal areas. They need identification cards for education, employment and health care. Application for citizenship is a difficult and lengthy procedure. The project coordinator is identifying possibilities for citizenship application and surveying the number of eligible Moken.
(5) Translation of the publication 'Indigenous people and parks'. After the distribution of this publication to various project stakeholders, suggestions were made to translate the document into Thai and update the information. This work is in progress and the Thai version is expected to be ready for publication in January 2003 (Narumon - is this date realistic? I understood from the contract that this was to be ready for distribution by end of March 03.). (As discussed with you this morning, I'll try to finish the draft manuscript by the end of this month, then send it to the press and have the publication ready by the end of March).
(6) Re-construction of a kabang (traditional Moken boat) to revive boat building knowledge and skills. The Moken of the Surin Islands ceased making kabang boats since the adoption of 'hua thong' boat (fishing boat used by fishermen in southern Thailand) about seven to eight years ago. With the support from the project, seven young adults in Ao Bon village on the Surin Islands have started to work on a kabang since the end of the 2002 tourist season, with the anthropology graduate student documenting the construction process. After its completion, the boat will be equipped with a sail, three oars, and an outboard engine. It is proposed that the boat will be communally owned and used to earn income for the Moken community.
(7) Supporting the acquisition of Urak Lawoi model boat and other artifacts to be displayed and demonstrated at Krabi Cultural Center. In collaboration with the Krabi Physical Education College, the project has supported the acquisition of the artifacts to be displayed at the Center between December 2001 and February 2002. The teachers at the college occasionally organize an Urak Lawoi festival day and invite local secondary school children to visit the Cultural Center and learn about different cultures. The children engage in various activities, have hands-on experience in husking/pounding rice using traditional mortar and other tools, learn to sing Urak Lawoi 'Rong-ngeng' and dance around the model boat.
Achievements & Assessment:

(1) Dialogue and understanding between stakeholders has been enhanced as a result of the workshops and other activities.

(2) 1000 school primers have been distributed, these allow children to learn through their own language and they promote cultural understanding and appreciation.
(3) The results of the resource assessments have been presented to the Park authorities and some of the information has been incorporated into the trail guide leaflets.
(4) Traditional skills are being revived and used for income generation.
(5) The publication on Indigenous people and parks and the trail guide booklets have served to inform a wider audience about the issues facing the Moken and their use of the resources of the Surin Islands.
Future Directions:

(1) Analysis of issues involved in citizenship registration for Chao Lay peoples in Thailand. ]

(2) Continue and build upon the dialogue between the Park authorities and the Moken and identify Moken representatives from the two villages who might become spokespersons.
(3) Raise public awareness on the Moken's use and occupation of the Surin Islands. A supplementary activity will be assistance for the establishment of an NGO to advocate on Chao Lay issues .
(4) Undertaken field discussions to determine whether there is a need or opportunity to extend certain project activities to other Chao Lay communities in the Andaman Sea.
(5) Soliciting feed-back regarding the usefulness of the book "We, the Sea People".
(6) Finalise arrangements for an education program and hands-on activities on sea turtle conservation (in collaboration with the local turtle conservation group).
(7) Design and establish a dedicated website for the project detailing activities undertaken and future directions.
(8) Document the re-construction of a Moken boat (kabang).
(9) Provide training to enhance the Moken's ability to produce good quality handicrafts based on their traditional skills, patterns and techniques, and provide for the proper storage of the handicraft products; investigate marketing and distribution of the handicrafts.
Introduction Activities Publications Search
Wise Practices Regions Themes