Authors : Angkun Chamroensan , Vinai Veravatnanond , Boonchird Pinyoanuntapong and Koson Srisang
Abstract: The main purpose of this research was to develop alternative ways of life for village communities in Northeast Thailand, with two main concepts people’s participation and sufficiency economy as the basic guidelines. The experiment action took place at Pakdom village, Phibunmangsahan district, Ubon Ratchathani province. A mixed group of 53 key informants were asked to join a focus group discussion in order to provide historical background, current situation and future possibilities. Then a Learning Center was organized on a 9 rai plot on which the experiment was undertaken between January and May, 2008, by a core group of 15 volunteers, chosen from among the Pakdom villagers who participated in the introductory meeting. The instruments included community meeting, field motes, observation forms, unstructured and semi structured interviews, focus groups and photo recording. The collected data were classified into groups according to the objectives and conceptual framework for descriptive analysis and interpretation. The research findings were as follows: the environment and the ways of life of Pakdom community had basically changed from the previous ways of simplicity, living in harmony with the environment and relying on natural resources for their living. The environment has now changed so much that Pakdom villagers can no longer rely on food from nature. They have had to rely on buying food in the market. Pakdom people have begun to realize the problem. At the Learning Center, agricultural activities deemed appropriate for producing food as well as for improving the environment were carried our by the 15 volunteers. They grew vegetables, raised local pigs and hens and raised fish in plastic-coated ponds. What they produced were sufficient for their consumption, cutting the need to buy food from outside. They also fermented organic fertilizers and bio-extracts, using raw materials which could be found in the community. As a result, the environment was also improved, due to the practice of the principles of sufficiency economy and people’s participation. In the evaluation of the experiment at the Learning Center, the following findings were revealed. The environment around the Learning Center was better due to the use of organic fertilizers and bio-extracts to improve the soil. The project participants exchanged their various knowledge and experience in the spirit of mutual care and share in the operation of the Learning Center. Thus, the products from growing vegetables, raising animals and fish and fermenting organic fertilizes and bio-extracts provided the members of the project with enough clean and safe food for their own consumption. Working together in the project, they were able to reduce production costs and well as to become self-reliant, leading to their communal well-being and better quality of life. Instead of competing for self-interests, Pakdom villagers have returned to mutual care and share. The spirit of communal cooperation has been retrieved. As such, it is alternative ways of life.
Angkun Chamroensan , Vinai Veravatnanond , Boonchird Pinyoanuntapong and Koson Srisang , 2009. Developing Alternative Ways of Life for Village Communities in Lower Mun River Area: A Participatory Action Research in Pakdom Village Ubon Ratchathani Province, Northeast Thailand. The Social Sciences, 4: 212-216.