Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal region and small island papers 8
Indigenous people and parks 4

TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS FOR THE MOKEN

While the groundwork for exploring sustainable life ways with the Moken has been laid and communication lines established among stakeholders, it is now time to start work on specific project activities. 

Model Moken boat on display at park headquarters.

The future success of the project depends largely on the willingness of the various stakeholders to continue to cooperate on difficult issues. Indeed, the cooperation that has been displayed so far bodes well for sustainable development involving the Moken and the conservation of the Surin Islands.

Project activities will be implemented over the years depending on the needs of the Moken community. Each activity will be a crucial step towards the sustainable development of the Surin Islands and the active involvement of its indigenous inhabitants. The proposed activities are described in this chapter.

Interdisciplinary resource assessment studies 

This activity is designed to create a model for participatory resource assessment involving indigenous communities and their knowledge. It will consist of interdisciplinary research conducted on the islands with the objective of determining sustainable resource use by the Moken. The active participation of the Moken in these studies is crucial, since they have an intimate knowledge of their island environment. The studies will also create partnerships between the Moken and the park authorities. The traditional environmental management practices of the Moken will be documented using written, photographic and video techniques. Consequently, this activity will be vital in the incorporation of indigenous management practices into modern conservation efforts. This research and documentation will take place over 18 months from November 1999 to April 2001.  

Handicraft learning

This activity is designed to increase the Mokenís ability to generate income for themselves; to strengthen cultural pride; to preserve traditional craft skills; and to promote Moken cultural heritage. In order to achieve this, however, the problem of a regular supply of raw materials has to be resolved. One alternative is to develop with the park authorities a mechanism by which the required materials can be harvested in a sustainable manner. Failing this, an outside source of raw materials (pandanus leaves) will have to be found. Moreover, a regular market for Moken crafts must be identified and a campaign to promote Moken traditional crafts will have to be undertaken. Handicraft training is a long-term project, which will be implemented slowly over a two-year period so as not to undermine Moken cultural values.  

Some of the arts and 
crafts samples produced
by staff of the Bangkok 
Arts and Crafts College. 
These crafts could be 
introduced to the Moken 
so they can earn extra 
income from craft sales.  

Giant clam mariculture

The mariculture project has numerous potential benefits for both the Moken and the ecology of the Surin Islands. If mariculture can be established successfully in the islands, restocking of the natural habitat by the Moken could breed giant clams. In exchange, the Moken would receive some form of renumeration. Much research will need to be done first to make sure that mariculture is a viable option for the Moken and the islandsí ecosystem. This project would be implemented over a two-year period. 

Basic health and welfare

The aim of this activity is to take care of the basic health needs of the Moken. This will be accomplished by training Moken health volunteers to provide basic care for the Moken community. Health experts will also visit the islands to provide regular examinations, infant vaccinations and to keep and maintain health records for the Moken. Sessions on maternal and infant health care, and the prevention and control of substance abuse will be provided.

Turtle conservation

Sea turtles nest on the beaches of the Surin Islands. The Moken could be trained in turtle conservation methods and hired to build hatcheries, maintain records, assist in rearing young turtles and, if necessary, relocate nests in order to help conserve the dwindling sea turtle population. An eight-month training course would provide the Moken with all of the skills needed to run a successful turtle conservation programme in the islands. Such a project could also raise the awareness of tourists and the Moken about the plight of marine turtles.

Reading material for Moken children

This activity aims to develop Moken childrenís ability to read in their own language, while also strengthening cultural pride. It will also encourage Thai people to learn about the Moken language and culture. Illustrated reading material for Moken children in both the Moken and Thai languages will be produced. The material will be tested with the children at Suraswadee School. There is also the possibility of producing similar reading material for adult education as well.  

Ferrying visitors ashore 
to park headquarters.
Styrofoam lunch boxes
from tourists create 
waste problems on the 
islands.

Eco-tourism

The eco-tourism activities must be carefully planned and executed. However, they have great potential for furthering the development of the Moken and the islands, while at the same time raising awareness and appreciation amongst tourists of the importance of the regionís natural and cultural resources. Data will be gathered for use in a Moken Cultural Interpretation Programme and in informative brochures for visitors. Interested Moken will undergo training as tour guides and will help with trail preparation.  

Stakeholder workshop for Lanta and Adang National Parks

The Surin Islands project will be used to determine the needs of other Chao Lay communities living in the Lanta and Adang National Parks through workshops with key stakeholders. The objective is to create a dialogue and form partnerships between the Chao Lay and other stake holders, especially the national park authorities, in order to understand Ďsustainable developmentí and raise awareness about the negative impacts of tourism.  

Illustrative Moken/Moklen/Thai/Malay/English dictionary

The proposed dictionary project will consist of gathering linguistic data on the Moken and Moklen, designing the illustrations, preparing the layout and publishing and disseminating the final product. The entire project will take one to two years to complete. The objective is to preserve the Moken/Moklen language and to strengthen cultural pride. 

Environmental and socio-cultural awareness-building campaigns

Mutual understanding between Chao Lay and the national park authorities, as well as other stakeholders, can be greatly enhanced by awareness-building activities using videos, slide shows and poster materials. In this way, the Chao Lay people will learn about the need for the environmental conservation of the Surin Islands, while other stakeholders can learn about the unique culture of the Chao Lay. The main topics of these video/slide series will be the Surin Islands marine and terrestrial environments and their species, resource conservation efforts, sea nomads in Thailand, Moken life and traditions, and indigenous people living in protected areas. 

Moken identity cards

The purpose of this activity is to conduct a census of the Moken and to collect household data. Photos of adult Moken will also be taken in order to issue them with identification cards. These will guarantee the Mokenís special privilege as native residents of the Surin Islands, prevent them from being arrested as illegal migrants, and ensure their basic rights (to receive healthcare and other government welfare). 

Trail guidebook production

The objectives are to provide information to trail walkers about geographical and culturally significant features of the islands, to increase cultural sensitivity towards the Moken, and to provide indigenous knowledge about plants for daily and medicinal uses. Data will be collected on the geographical and culturally significant features found in the islands. A trail guide will be drafted in both English and Thai. Tourist pamphlets will also be published. 

Slide series on Moken life and culture

This activity will produce slides and scripts on Moken life and culture, which will be given to the national park to show to visitors and park staff, to inform them and develop cultural sensitivity about Moken life.

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