To critically examine how the post‐tsunami recovery process has affected the livelihoods of small fisher communities in southern Thailand.
This study was carried out as part of on‐going work with small fisher communities in southern Thailand. It was based on direct observations and interviews in fishing communities and following decision‐making processes through attending meetings and reviewing secondary reports.
The Indian Ocean tsunami had immediate devastating and longer‐term debilitating consequences for small fisher communities in southern Thailand. Delays in repairing or replacing boats have had a major impact on well‐being. The tsunami by removing housing and other coastal infrastructure also created opportunities for both social and ecological reorganization. These opportunities were seized upon by powerful interests groups with already strong connections to state through membership in taskforces and other links to power, in particular the tourism and conservation sectors to the detriment of interests of small fishers. A narrow focus on tourism‐led recovery is unlikely to do anything but recover tourism.
As a marginalized and vulnerable group small fishers need to be directly involved in negotiations around disaster recovery programmes and setting priorities for future regional development in southern Thailand.
This study draws attention to persistent problems in the disaster recovery programs in Thailand that have left small fisher communities in a perilous condition.