Thailand graduated from USAID assistance in 1995 and USAID closed its bilateral mission the following year. In 2003, USAID returned to Bangkok to open a regional mission serving the Asia-Pacific region. More than a decade later, USAID now works on cross-border issues of concern to Thailand and the region and draws upon Thai expertise to support development results in other countries.
The bulk of U.S. development assistance to Thailand is through regional programs that primarily cover the Southeast Asia region, including support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and other regional forums of which Thailand is a member. These efforts are leading to greater regional economic integration and cooperation on issues of mutual interest to the United States and Thailand.
While Thailand has become an upper middle-income country, it is not immune to regional and global development challenges putting lives and hard-earned economic growth at risk. These challenges include trafficking-in-persons for forced prostitution and labor, a relatively high prevalence of HIV and AIDS in specific populations, and the effects of global climate change — a threat that elevates the danger of natural and man-made disasters, droughts, extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels. USAID’s regional programs help prevent human and wildlife trafficking, reduce the incidence of HIV and AIDS and other diseases, and promote the responsible use of natural resources.
- USAID reaches more than 16,000 at-risk people with HIV prevention, testing and treatment services annually.
- USAID support helped launch the Center for Civil Society and Nonprofit Management, — the first of its kind in Thailand and Southeast Asia — to help nonprofit organizations develop better management skills.
- To protect marine ecosystems and endangered sharks, USAID partners with more than 100 leading hotels and restaurants across the Asia-Pacific to end shark fin sales.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND GOVERNANCE
USAID works to protect and empower vulnerable populations, such as those targeted for human trafficking as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, Thailand is a source, transit and destination country for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. A USAID-funded awareness raising campaign — which disseminated information at high profile concerts, during television programs and through social media — on how to help young teenagers and adults protect themselves from human traffickers has reached at least 137 million people throughout Asia since 2006. USAID also addresses challenges facing Asia’s LGBTI community, which is especially vulnerable to violence, social stigma and discrimination in many walks of life. USAID manages a regional initiative that works with universities, human rights organizations and LGBTI associations to increase their ability to address these challenges.
Other USAID projects promote greater citizen engagement. With USAID support, Khon Kaen University created a Center for Civil Society and Nonprofit Management to enhance management skills of current and future civil society leaders through certificate training programs and academic coursework. Skills are critical to help non-government and civil society leaders to mobilize constituents and policymakers in promoting effective regional development and advocacy.
USAID’s regional health programs in Thailand and neighboring countries address HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and avian influenza. USAID programs provide HIV prevention education, condoms, counseling and testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted infections. Partnering with universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam under the Southeast Asia “One Health University Network,” USAID helps detect emerging infectious diseases before they become public health threats. The satellite Thailand One Health University Network program (with Chiang Mai, Chulalongkorn, Kasetsart, Khon Kaen, Mahidol and Prince of Songkla universities) has hosted regional training for students and faculty. Other potential global health threats being addressed include TB and multidrug-resistant TB, especially among mobile and migrant populations across the region. In addition, through the President’s Malaria Initiative, USAID supports training health workers on malaria case management and providing diagnostic tools, treatment services and insecticide-treated nets for at-risk communities.
USAID takes advantage of Thailand’s technical expertise to strengthen regional efforts that promote green growth, low emission development and sustainable infrastructure, improve accounting of greenhouse gas inventories, help communities adapt and build resilience against climate change, and protect forests and conserve biodiversity across Asia. Thailand is a member of the USAID-supported ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network, which trains law enforcement officials and increases public understanding of the negative impacts of illegal wildlife trafficking, including ways it can be stopped. New public-private partnerships work with luxury hotel chains and local governments to reduce the consumption of shark fin and stop the sale of shark products to protect a predator critical to the conservation of marine ecosystems.
Last updated: March 29, 2016