Vulnerability and disaster in Thailand: Scale, power, and collaboration in post-tsunami recovery

Khanin Hutanuwatr, Robert Bolin, David Pijawka

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

15 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami's impacts on coastal regions of Thailand with a focus recovery dynamics and the role of community-based organizations. With more than 8,000 killed and thousands homeless in Thailand, coupled with heavy impacts to fishing villages and large-scale loss of livelihoods, recovery challenges have been extensive. Patterns of uneven geographic development among a culturally and socially diverse population produced different recovery dynamics by location across the impact zone. Based on extensive fieldwork in the region by the lead author, we examine recovery dynamics in a representative coastal village. We begin by reviewing the historical geography of the area and how development patterns shaped local vulnerabilities prior to the tsunami. This provides context for analyzing impacts and response and recovery dynamics at the research site, with a focus on the diverse ways local leaders, displaced residents, government agencies, and NGOs promoted a variety of recovery strategies. We consider how relief organizations dealt with a culturally diverse population with substantial pre-disaster vulnerabilities, including the limitations of state-centered top-down approaches to recovery. Alternative approaches based on local leadership and collaborative networks across geographic scales proved more successful at coupling vulnerability reduction with local programs of recovery. We conclude with a discussion of the role of participatory approaches and local institution building in vulnerability reduction and capacity building in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationForces of Nature and Cultural Responses
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789400750005
ISBN (Print)9400749996, 9789400749993
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013


  • Coastal Community Center
  • Collaborative approach
  • Disaster recovery
  • Thailand
  • Tsunami
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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