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Learning from the pandemic: how to better integrate migrant workers in disaster risk reduction in Thailand

This policy brief is based on an SEI study on how migrant workers from Myanmar in the provinces of Phuket and Samut Sakhon, Thailand, have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and by the measures taken in response to it.

Photo: Naseem Buras / Unsplash.

Camille Pross, Robin Hocquet, Andreea Raluca Torre / Published on 11 July 2022

Pross, C., Hocquet, R., Torre, A. R. (2022). Learning from the pandemic: how to better integrate migrant workers in disaster risk reduction in Thailand. SEI policy brief. Stockholm Environment Institute.

While pandemics differ from natural hazards, there are also similarities in how countries and communities prepare for, respond to and recover from them. Vulnerable groups such as migrant workers remain particularly at risk to both. Action to reduce risk, both in the context of natural hazards and pandemics, needs to account for the specific needs of migrants, and wider political efforts need to address the root causes of their vulnerability, which include inadequate labour-migration policies, discrimination that undermines decent working and living conditions, and unequal access to social rights. This is especially important because natural hazards are ongoing threats, the effects of which are compounded by pandemics, making the most marginalized people even more vulnerable.

This policy brief explains recommendations for tailoring disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning, policy and practice to the case of migrant workers in Thailand, building on the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic. Ultimately, more inclusive and effective DRR can benefit migrant workers and strengthen the resilience of society more broadly.

Key messages

  • Thailand’s disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts tend to overlook the root causes of migrants’ vulnerability to disaster, which would require re-thinking labour-migration policies and tackling discrimination.
  • Measures were taken during the Covid-19 pandemic that were inclusive of migrants, facilitated by cooperation among relevant stakeholders. Some of these measures can be replicated beyond the pandemic for more inclusive DRR.
  • A proactive, whole-of-society approach is necessary to effectively reduce disaster risks regardless of the nature of the disaster. This entails putting human rights at the forefront of DRR efforts, with policies informed by the lived experiences of vulnerable groups.

SEI authors

Topics and subtopics
Climate : Climate policy, Disaster risk
Related centres
SEI Asia

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