BANGKOK, THAILAND – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the governments of Thailand and Japan today launched two projects which will help Thailand strengthen community-based disaster risk management, and support efforts to enhance financial inclusion in low income communities.
A $2 million grant is being provided for the Community-Based Flood Risk Management and Disaster Response Project in the Chao Phraya Basin, while a $1.5 million grant is extended for a technical assistance project to help specialized financial institutions provide financial services to unbanked people. Both grants are provided by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and will be administered by ADB.
Officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Embassy of Japan and ADB’s Thailand Resident Mission held a ceremony at the Ministry of Finance in Bangkok, signaling the start of operations for the projects.
“Since the severe floods of 2011, the Government of Thailand has carried out several high level flood control schemes. The disaster risk management project aims to help reduce risks further by supporting greater community involvement in activities such as flood preparedness, response, and post-flood recovery,” said James Nugent, Director General of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “The second project will promote financial inclusion by helping to address disparities of access to a full range of financial services.”
Five rural and urban communities in the Chao Phraya Basin will be selected to pilot the risk management project, which will enhance their preparations for future floods and improve coordination with local authorities when disaster strikes. Comprehensive training and capacity building support will be provided. The project will run for almost 2 years, from January 2016 to December 2017
The second project will support agencies overseeing specialized financial institutions, which play a key role in extending finance to Thais lacking access to banking services. Assistance will be given to the Fiscal Policy Office, the State Enterprise Policy Office and related agencies to help them provide improved strategy and business plan advice to specialized financial institutions. This is expected to help these institutions improve the quality and reach of their services.
Agencies overseeing financial cooperatives will also receive support to boost their supervisory capacities and help them develop an early warning system against financial fraud to better protect low income financial consumers. There are currently more than 8,000 cooperatives in Thailand, with 11.5 million members and assets accounting for about 5% of the total assets of financial institutions.
The project will include an international knowledge sharing forum on financial inclusion, utilizing lessons learned from the cooperative agreement between the Japan Financial Services Agency and Thailand’s Ministry of Finance.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.