10 March 2007

Stark disparities revealed by Thailand's largest-ever household survey


Gongsak and his mother being interviewed at home in Baan Tung Faet village in Rachaburi Province. © UNICEF-Thailand/2006/Rob Few
Story by Robert Few

RATCHABURI, Thailand – Three-year-old Gongsak, an ethnic Kalieng boy, lives with his mother in a flimsy wooden shack off a minor road in rural Ratchaburi. Here, some 30 kilometres from the border with Burma, Gongsak and his mother, Noy Meer, subsist in poverty, without access to adequate health care, sanitation or other services many Thai families take for granted.

Gongsak’s household was one of 43,000 covered by a nationwide survey carried out last year by the National Statistics Office (NSO). The survey, officially called the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), was the largest assessment ever of the situation of children and women in Thailand.