Background Information

Thailand is a middle income country, unlike its northern neighbours Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia which are low income countries. During and after the Vietnam War the Thai economy slowly started to grow. Initially crop cultivation and manufacturing industry was responsible for this economic growth. Halfway through the 1980′s fisheries and livestock farming was the more dominant industry.
For the Kamphaeng Phet province the economy has followed the same path, in which agricultural development caused significant economic growth for the region. During the last decade economic growth can mainly be ascribed to the manufacturing industry whereas agricultural development got to a hold. This economic growth (starting in the mid 70′s) translates in a shift in average income per capita from 9,317 baht in 1981 to 79,624 baht in 2006. This average income for the province is significant lower than the average of the entire nation (114,803 baht per capita in 2006).

Kamphaeng Phet shares three National Parks with adjacent neighbouring provinces. Mae Wong is the largest park (894 km2) followed by Khlong Wang Chao (747 km2) and Khlong Lan (300 km2). These National Parks are located in the mountainous west of the province. The parks contain a rich flora of mixed deciduous, evergreen and dipterocarp forests amongst others. Numerous birds and small mammal species can be found as well as larger mammals such as Macaques, Gibbons, Elephants, Wild pigs, and several Deer species. In the province Tak and Sokuthai (the northern neighbors) an additional 5 National Parks are located at approximately 60 km of the province border. These are the National Parks; Mea Ping, (1004 km2) Wiang Kosai (410 km2) Ramkhlanghaeng (341 km2), Si Satchanalai (213) and Lan Sing (104 km2). These parks are all situated in mountainous areas with similar vegetation types.
The larger parks are situated near the Myanmar border and the smaller ones on the opposite side of the river Mea Nam Ping. In between these parks the land is cultivated with rice on the river plains and other cash crops on the higher land. These agricultural lands cover most of the Kamphaeng Phet province and are rich in biodiversity. Many bird, fish and amphibian species can be found as well as insects, bats and other small mammals. Paddy rice fields for example have a rich biodiversity, many species have adapted to these habitats during the long tradition of rice cultivation.
The biodiversity is under a lot of pressure; the agricultural revolution in the 60′s and 70′s caused an intensification of agriculture which claimed a lot of land and initiated the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Nowadays natural habitats (even within National Parks) are continually being destroyed, endangered species are being hunted and pollution is every day business. However, more and more Thai people and their government are becoming greatly aware of the emerging loss of biodiversity.

Thailand has a relatively good National Health system compared to most other countries in South East Asia. In 1990 the first social health system was introduced in Thailand, and in 1997 access to public health care for all Thai people became part of the constitution. This was followed by a new health care system in 2002, which provides universal cover; the so called 30 baht system (for 30 Baht you can visited a physician). Despite these efforts there are still people that do not have access to health care.
Some of the major health issues are Diabetes, Hepatitis, HIV and Dengue Fever. HIV reached its peak in the 1990′s. Education and awareness programs and the use of condoms have helped significantly in reducing this disease. Diabetes is another national problem which is mainly caused by a change of diet but also pesticides like DDT can induce diabetes. Hepatitis is very common in Thailand but gets relative little attention, even though hepatitis is much more contagious than HIV. It is estimated that 1 out of every 20 Thai has or has had a form of hepatitis. Dengue fever is a disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes like malaria. It is relatively common in area’s with standing water. Dengue fever, however, is much more common in Thailand than malaria and has been on the increase over the last few years.
With regards to the human environment there are additional health related issues such as; poisoning from heavy metals or other chemicals / bacterial resistance to antibiotics due to excessive use of these anti-biotics in aquaculture (fish farming)/ lung problems due to exposure to asbestos (90% of the roofs in Thailand are made from asbestos as it is a cheap, strong, light and inflammable material).