ActionAid Thailand’s visit to the deep south marks a new chapter of our women’s economic empowerment project. Led by partner organisation Chumchonsattha Foundation, our programme officers and country director on 26-28 September visited three new communities in conflict-ridden areas of Narathiwat and Pattani Provinces to study the feasibility of potential empowerment initiatives. We gained insights about the present geopolitical and cultural context as well as each community’s achievements and challenges.

Meeting with the committee of Ittihad savings group and Loyfah Ban Chumbok cooperative in Takbai District, Narathiwat, ActionAid learned about factors that had posed challenges in the group’s operation, such as lack of skillful labour and expertise, budget liquidity and government intervention.

Photo: Varisa Sinthusake

We also visited Moo 1, Cho-airong District, where the local community has been trying to form a savings group and develop small enterprises, namely small-scale black pepper and lime farming or made-to-order bakery and Thai dessert service, as an additional source of income to rubber cultivation. The meeting addressed network performance, market study and local product development, and more access to land and skill training that would open up considerable growth opportunity.

We travelled to Khok Poh, a district 30 minutes southwest of Pattani’s city centre. Due to their location, the local women’s group, who increase family income by producing coconut oil, dishwash, soap bars and other self-care products, at times faces transportation and logistics problems when festivals and big events take place in the city. Nevertheless, they have been trying to develop products according to the market and discovered a bigger market opportunity since foreign visitors had approached them about international distribution. This, however, has to be preceded by registering the products and standardising the brand and quality.

Photo: Varisa Sinthusake

ActionAid Thailand sees in these communities a huge opportunity to strengthen women’s groups and networks and boost their capacity to generate additional income for their households. We will be working with Chumchonsattha Foundation to fill the gaps, supporting each group in meeting their goals in a sustainable way, be it providing more access to land and resources, marketing channels, marketing strategy or training of specific skill sets.

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