From food insecurity, to inflation, to poverty, vulnerable communities in Thailand continue to be plagued by systemic issues. Hundreds of Thai communities remain ensnared in the grips of poverty, in desperate need of assistance. It goes without saying that the fallout of the pandemic exacerbates existing social issues, leaving millions without work, causing business closures, and pushing a large proportion of the economically vulnerable population in Thailand to deeper into poverty. Driven by unity, LANNA recently took part in an interscholastic donation drive to support these vulnerable and underprivileged communities. By collecting donations of food, gently used clothes and toys, as well as menstrual products and absorbent sheets for geriatric individuals, the Student Council strived to support our most vulnerable communities.
What are some of the main issues that affect Thailand’s vulnerable communities today, especially in post-pandemic times?
Food insecurity remains a big issue in Thailand, with millions falling back into poverty due to unemployment. Over the course of the pandemic, 8.4 million jobs in Thailand were put at risk, in addition to jobs of the farmers who have earlier been struck by droughts. Presently, over a quarter of a million people are undernourished in Thailand, many being farmers from rural areas.
Compounded by soaring commodity prices, inflation has caused the price of basic commodities such as rice and instant noodles to rise, making basic commodities inaccessible to the impoverished. Even small fluctuations in price can cause immense financial hardship for struggling citizens, coupled with the mass lockdowns, economic downfall and unemployment caused by the pandemic.
Women and the elderly and two groups that we especially wanted to help out with the donation drives. Old-age pensioners, who receive only 600-900 baht a month (20-30 baht a day), far below the poverty line of 65 baht per day, are in desperate need of financial assistance to slay afloat.
Moreover, period poverty is another often overlooked and stigmatised issue that we wanted to shed light on. A lack of income among working class people often impedes access to menstrual products or leads to them wearing a disposable pad for longer than the recommended time, thereby risking various health complications. Due to the 7% value added tax on menstrual products, up to 12% of a woman’s minimum wage income of 331 baht is used to manage menstrual health.
What can you do to help?
The interscholastic food drive started by the Prem Food Bank and contributed to by the LANNA Student Council aims to distribute food and other basic goods to those who cannot afford it.
By collecting donations from the school community and later distributing them to vulnerable communities, the Student Council aims to encourage civic engagement and community service. Issues of period poverty and food insecurity can be ameliorated, albeit temporarily, by our donations of menstrual products and food. People are encouraged to donate things such as used but good condition clothes, toys, non-perishable food stuffs such as canned food and rice, and hygiene products.
We need your help to solve this crisis. You can help out by donating goods to our food drive or by supporting any future charity events that our Student Council hosts. Please also feel free to spread the word! By posting on social media about donation drives, you can help maximise the positive change that comes out of these charity events. Your assistance is much needed and appreciated. There is truth to the idiom that ‘many hands make light work’; let’s all play a role in enacting grassroots change in our communities!