The Politics of Change in Thai Cities: The Urban Poor as Development Catalysts
Thailand’s participatory slum upgrading programme, the Baan Mankong “secure housing” programme, which has benefited over 90,000 households, has spurned on a wider process of change amongst Thai urban poor communities. From a process of community savings to participatory upgrading of slums, the National Union of Low Income Community Organisations (NULICO) arose, and has become a key driver for community development in Thai cities. The network has gradually established firm relations with local government officials and has benefited from the support of the Community Organisations Development Institute (CODI), a state agency. NULICO and CODI have introduced a number of innovations to urban community development, such as a community-based insurance system and city-level Community Development Funds (CDFs). These CDFs run in collaboration with city authorities and allow for citywide upgrading, in order to achieve “cities without slums”, as well as providing income-generating and other revolving loans. From two CDFs in 2009, there are now over 60 CDFs established and over 200 in the pipeline. A new politics of change has emerged in cities as a consequence of the Baan Mankong programme, influencing the urban development of Thailand’s cities. Low-income communities are playing an increasingly important role in city development, with consequences for civic participation and democratisation of Thai grass roots.
KeywordsSocial Capital Urban Poor Bonding Social Capital Municipal Official Saving Group
My thanks go to the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) for developing my understanding of CDFs in Asia. Any mistakes in this text are my own.
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