Learn more about specific causes in Thailand that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe main environmental issues that Thailand faces are deforestation, soil erosion, wildlife trade, and air and water pollution. The positive economic development that Thailand has experienced has come at the price of the degradation of the country’s extensive natural resources. 1 In 2015, the government adopted emission standards, phased out lead in gasoline, and removed a number of polluting rickshaws in the streets to decrease air pollution in Bangkok. Better air quality has already improved the health and quality of life of residents in the city.2 Worldwide climate change affects farmland in Thailand, making lowlands and coastal areas more susceptible to flooding. In order to curb the effects of climate change, the government developed a Climate Change Action Plan in order to educate the public Read More and implement regulations about environmental conservation.3 Show Less
FamilyFamily planning has contributed greatly to Thailand’s success as a country ever since they became serious about the implementation of family planning programs in the 1970s.1 As a result, Thailand has a smaller population compared to other Asian countries, a growing economy, and fewer people living in poverty.2 Despite these advancements, an alarming trend in Thailand is the steady rise of domestic violence. Due to societal and cultural restraints, many women who are abused in their homes remain silent and do not seek outside help which only perpetuates the cycle of violence.3
Human RightsIn May 2014, martial law was declared across Thailand and paved the way for a variety of human rights violations. The military council placed censorship on the media and doesn’t allow citizens to publicly protest the monarchy. The government gives blanket amnesty for corruption, which has augmented political divisions among the citizens. State security forces have been cited for carrying out extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.1 Additionally, authorities largely ignored any human rights abuses committed against migrant workers.2
Education90% of school-aged children in Thailand are enrolled in primary school. However, only 75% of the students who begin primary school complete secondary education.1 Refugee and migrant children struggle to receive proper education, but some aid organizations provide informal education and curriculum in refugee centers.2 Thailand is the educational administrative seat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), so its reforms and precedent set the tone for the region.3
PovertyApproximately 13% of the country lives below the poverty line.1 Despite improvement efforts, there is still inequality in regards to poverty in Thailand, as 80% of impoverished citizens live in rural areas.2 In past decades, the government has undertaken several rural development programs specifically aimed at the poorest economic sectors of the country. These have largely been successful and have introduced programs for poverty reduction, nutrition improvement, and low-cost housing.3
ReligionReligious freedom is maintained in the Thai constitution for all citizens, and there is no official state religion. Around 95% of the population practices Theravada Buddhism, and the law necessitates that the king subscribe to Theravada Buddhism.1 A large community of Buddhist monks is located in Thailand, and almost every settlement in the country has a temple where monks reside.2 A small percentage of people practicing Islam live near the Malaysian border, in the southernmost provinces of Thailand. There is an ongoing, low-intensity war in this region because of tensions between Thai Buddhist citizens and the ethnic Muslim Malay communities. At the end of 2016, 6,000 people had died in sporadic attacks from both sides.3
Clean WaterAs with many other countries throughout Asia, rising population, urbanization, and agricultural and industrial expansion have had a negative effect on Thailand’s water sources. The overall quality of groundwater has been degraded as a result of pollutants from human activities. Furthermore, Thailand experiences intense flooding in the rainy season and extreme droughts in the dry season, which can bring challenges to supplying a steady flow of water for its citizens. Approximately one-third of all surface water is of poor quality in Thailand and domestic sewage, industrial wastewater, and other hazardous wastes have vastly increased in recent years.1 Despite these challenges, 98% of the population has access to clean water and 93% have access to improved sanitation.2
EconomyThe Thai economy has a developed infrastructure, high foreign investment, and a strong export industry. Thailand also has an extremely low unemployment rate at 1%.1 There have been several decades of steady growth, allowing it to sustain strong, long-term growth while simultaneously reducing poverty. However, the benefits of this economic growth have not been equally distributed amongst the population. 7% of the country still lives in poverty, and 80% of those live in rural areas. The inequality is exacerbated by droughts and falling agricultural prices.2
GovernmentThailand has a constitutional monarchy government with a king as the chief of state and prime minister as the head of government.1 In 2016, the king passed away after a 70 year reign and a militaristic rule ensued. The majority of power lies in the hands of a military council which has placed restrictions on many freedoms. The council also took over the judicial system and retains power to arrest and try civilians at any time. As of 2017, the government has denied international requests to restore democratic order to Thailand.2
Health71% of deaths in Thailand are caused by non-communicable diseases, like heart and respiratory conditions. Road accidents follow closely behind in causes of death.1 Strokes are also becoming a huge health care challenge for Thailand and they are the leading cause of long-term disabilities in both genders.2 Since 2002, Thailand has had nearly universal health care coverage for its citizens.1 Treatment is completely free for Thai citizens, but government hospitals and medical centers are often overcrowded. Citizens can receive better quality at private clinics, but often poorer citizens cannot afford to pay for it.3 Thailand is also the only country in the world that provides equal universal health care for illegal migrants. The health coverage provides treatment for chronic illnesses such as HIV that are common Read More among the migrant population.4 Show Less
ChildrenChild prostitution and human trafficking are major challenges facing children in Thailand.1 53% of human trafficking victims are under the age of 16. Since Thailand serves as a source, transit, and destination country for the industry, government measures to end the abhorrent practice are difficult to coordinate. The child prostitution industry in Thailand has flourished due to the lack of societal condemnation of the practice and the fiscal gains the government receives by the increase of foreign tourism.1 An estimated 130,000 refugees live in Thailand, and because less than 10% of these migrant children attend schools, they are left increasingly vulnerable to the sex industry and human traffickers.2,3
AnimalsWater buffaloes, horses, oxen, and elephants are traditionally used in agriculture. Rapid deforestation and illegal sale of exotic animals has endangered many species like rhinoceroses and tapirs. Overfishing has also decreased the amounts of many indigenous species along the coastlines. Reform measures to conserve animal species have been largely unsuccessful.1
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