Social capital, human capital, disaster recovery and sustainable development in a fishing community in southern Thailand

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The Asian tsunami of 26 December 2004 affected millions of people in 10 countries around the Indian Ocean. More than 200,000 people died, tens of millions were left homeless and without livelihoods, and entire communities were dislocated. In Thailand, 408 of the 418 communities along the Andaman Sea were struck by the disaster; 47 of them were severely affected. This study investigates how enhancement of existing social capital contributed not only to the re-establishment of the tsunami-affected island of Koh Mouk, in Trang Province, Southern Thailand, but also to its long-term sustainable development. The concept of social capital used in the thesis draws on literature from developed and developing communities and the lived experience of the people of the island of Koh Mouk. The study argues that NGO-facilitated capacity building, specific to local needs, enhanced human capital and played a crucial role in social capital building and the desired outcome of enriched sustainable development. Through the case study of Koh Mouk, the thesis illustrates the ways in which local people drew on existing linkages whilst at the same time building new networks of trust and reciprocity. The case study also demonstrates how capacity building, resulting in human capital, intersected with social capital to create something greater than the sum of its parts in the local sustainable development efforts. The case study of Koh Mouk explores the crucial areas of the management of marine resources, land use and housing, the participation of women into the money economy, the general economy of the island, the development of formal education through a new school curriculum, and engagement in the mainstream political process. The conclusion draws together these threads to establish the parameters of social capital and to explain its relationship with human capital in the recovery and sustainable development of this island community.
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