From INSEAD Knowledge, writer Karen Cho tells us about safe sex and microcredit programs run by PDA.
PDA’s creative tactics included a microcredit programme targeted at mothers. Instead of encouraging mothers to have another child, they were told they each would win a pig if they refrained from getting pregnant. They listened, and not only got their pig, but raised the animals for six months and even managed to sell them for a profit.
“So the message was: ‘the more children you have, they poorer you become.’ We try to get them to focus their time and energy on income generation rather than having children,” says Kulapongse.
She says the average number of children per household has since fallen to 1.2 from seven. “It’s a huge achievement of Thailand overall, including PDA – the population growth rate has decreased from 3.3 to 0.3 per cent.”
Operating on the belief that local people are best suited to shape and sustain their own development, PDA set up the Village Development Bank, part of a development initiative to eradicate poverty. It provides microcredit financing, which would be otherwise unavailable, to villages to start their own enterprises.
“We believe that the poor are still poor because they lack two things: access to credit and business, and life skills training. The Village Development Bank gives villagers access to microloans with affordable interest rates. We also give them skills to run the fund, distribute loans and do bookkeeping. After that, we also encourage them to use the profits from this microcredit fund towards development activities for their own village, so it’s very sustainable and it works,” says Kulapongse.
She adds that this kind of model has been developed against a backdrop of PDA’s experience in rural development stretching more than 25 years. It is a long-term process and requires a lot of participation from villagers to ensure the bottom-up approach, but definitely yields positive and concrete results, she says. In tsunami-affected areas, for example, “not only did the fund grow, but the mindset and attitude of the villagers changed too. With consistent monitoring and skills enhancement, it changed the role of women and youth in that area.”