In Thailand, 14 Villages Debate What to Do With $100K in Community Development Funds


April 22, 2024


Government, News




 (BAN KHAM KHAN NUEA, KHON KAEN, Thailand) — Subdistrict municipal leaders met with residents on Feb. 23 to prioritize community development projects. Provincial comptrollers released 4 million baht for shovel-ready community development projects. Now, residents have to decide which projects are most important to their respective villages with a vote. Following the voting, emergency and environmental management personnel announced local service restrictions and guidelines.

Surchai Suwanhan, deputy subdistrict chief of Ban Kham Khan Nuea, announced the “Project for Improvement and Community Development,” which was explained to the group as an annual initiative by the crown to develop and improve rural areas. This year’s budget 4 million Thai baht ($109,000) , must be divided among 14 villages. Each must now choose which projects to nominate for their respective villages with justification to be sent to the subdistrict for consideration. 

“Therefore, we must choose … only the projects that are most necessary and beneficial to the people in the community,” Suwanhan said. 

Residents were given documents listing the projects under consideration before the vote. During efforts to organize votes, several residents pushed back against the initiative, demanding answers regarding FY23 projects that remain unfinished. Ratthawan Sutthama, the assistant village chief, wants a water canal in Ward 2 completed, which was promised in 2023. 

Sub-district representative Surchai Suwanhan said the canal project has a budget of 200,000 baht ($5,550), “but we don’t have a construction company yet.” Those comments led several to question the district’s budget oversight policy.  One resident joined in, saying that the Ward 2 canal was originally supposed to cost 180,000 baht, and asked, “Where did the money go?” 

Thongkun Podok, also from Ward 2, said, “It’s gone because they spent it all.” Podok is one of the residents who was expecting last year’s projects to be completed by now and is surprised that they are not voting on those projects today.

 Subsequently, village leaders organized the audience and asked residents to prioritize one of two road projects that support agricultural development. Project 1: A gravel road from Khamtan Farm would link multiple family farms to the village. That project received 31 votes. 

Project 2: A similar road project for agricultural development, supporting fewer farms, received only nine votes.

 After recording votes, Ban Kham Khan Nuea submitted its community development nomination and must now wait for the other villages to complete their nominations. Once all nominations have been submitted, a panel to collectively prioritize, approve, and fund the projects will be organized. The subdistrict chief, a local engineer, and the local government finance team will head the panel. 

With votes counted, local government representatives moved to answer other questions and issue notices and guidelines for emergency services and landfill restrictions. 

Bunma Namnon,  67, wants the road to her land repaired. It was damaged by heavy rains last season. Subdistrict representatives told her to report the matter to the local government office, and they will try to repair it as soon as possible. One resident noted that Namnon’s road is private property, not village property. Still, Namnon was directed to contact the local government office for some assistance.

Pichit Kawboonma, head of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, lectured on drug safety and critical patient care. An elderly lady asked if emergency vehicles could wait to take her home after going to the hospital. 

Vehicles must return to the office after the hospital, as “There may be other patients in need of their services.” said Kawboonma. He added, however, that if a patient needs a ride home and doesn’t have a vehicle, they can call the office, and another vehicle can be dispatched to transport them back home.

In closing, Suwanhan reminded residents that since there are no garbage vehicles or sanitation staff to collect trash in the district, residents must sort and take trash directly to the landfill. Residents are not to dispose of items harmful to the environment, he said noting that residents have been disposing of batteries, chemicals, and items that could be recycled with the proceeds supporting local schools. 


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