Doi Tung Royal Project – hidden gem of Northern Thailand


Established in 1988 in the Golden Triangle, the Project tackles poverty and lack of opportunity at the source of the issue, transforming an opium producing region into a reforested one. Opium addict rehabilitation, healthcare and education, and alternative livelihood creation were all part of this project’s scope, which helped more than 10,000 individuals from six ethnic groups. For local job creation and climate change adaptation and mitigation, the Project has an extension with the Department of Forestry until 2051 on its land-use contract at Chiang Rai Province with the Department of Forestry that was set to expire in 2021.

The Project / Implementation Activity’s

The Project’s concept is broken down into three distinct stages, each of which is tailored to meet the specific wants and requirements of the communities it will serve.

Survival is the first phase (1988-1993). Resolving urgent health concerns through educating the public and implementing measures to avoid sickness. In order to treat and rehabilitate drug addicts, a 1,000-day drug rehabilitation center was created. Infrastructures and training opportunities for community members were also made available. With a long-term contract for land use in forest areas, the Thai government gave both in-cash and in-kind help.

Phase 2: Self-sufficiency (1994-2002). The primary goal was to generate long-term revenue. Financial stability and social and environmental improvement are necessary for sustainable development. Community members will benefit from a value-chain approach that extends beyond farming and selling agricultural products into a wider range of activities, such as processing, branding, and marketing. As a result of private sector funding, the DoiTung brand’s social enterprises were founded and have been financially self-sufficient since 2000.

Phase 3 is all about sustaining the project (2003-2021). Focused on long-term brand and community sustainability, strengthening social business units is essential. Efforts are made to empower and educate the local population so that they may take charge of their own growth and destiny. Local job creation, incubation of social enterprises and small local firms, and a concentration on climate change mitigation and adaptation will all be part of the project going forward. With the new agreement with the state on land use, the contract will last until 2051.

Results / Outputs / Impacts

There was a 20-fold increase in the average family income from 1988 to 2018 (exchange: 1 Baht = $0.03). As of the year 2000, DoiTung brand has been self-sustaining, with 30 percent ($5.1 million) going directly to the 1,700 employees, many of whom are from Doi Tung villages, and 9 percent ($1.54 million) of revenues going to scholarships and the incubation of social enterprises. Opium cultivation has been eradicated from the environment. From 28 percent to 86.8% of the total area, the forest was regenerated via community forest management and fire prevention rules.

Zero-waste to landfill aim has been reached since 2018 and will be replicated in surrounding municipalities by 2025. Health care is available to everyone. 99.99 percent of 7-15-year-olds are now enrolled in formal education, up from 99.98 percent of an illiterate population. A wide range of employment options are available for all ages and demographics, from the elderly to the young and handicapped. While adjusting to the worldwide society, the six ethnic groups maintain their customs and traditions.

Factors that help and hinder

As a result of these characteristics, the Project’s development operations fostered a feeling of community ownership and sustainability. Stakeholder participation at all levels and across multiple sectors is essential for successful implementation, and this includes the private sector as well.

Constraints: This project began with a huge challenge to overcome – building trust. Staff members from the Project spent time with residents to learn about their goals and requirements, and then they implemented a rapid hit to meet the community’s urgent daily subsistence needs in order to win their confidence.

Both long-term stability and scalability

Doi Tung is now self-sufficient, robust, and capable of thriving. For them, there are a variety of ways to earn a living that is both stable and rewarding. It is estimated that the DTDP presently operates as a “Living University” in the areas of environmental management, human rights, and social entrepreneurship for the benefit of roughly 900 students each year. MFLF is also involved in international policy conversations on a variety of forums, including the World Economic Forum.

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