Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thai Community Organizer Kovit Boonjear on Squatter Communities, Housing Rights and Community Empowerment.

By: Katherine Foo

Kovit Boonjear is a native of Thailand who works to organize squatter and scavenger communities that deal with housing rights and self-sustainable income. He works to help the poor by emphasizing participatory education. Boonjear said that homelessness in Thailand is caused by the fact that the government solely supports the industrial sector, completely ignoring the agricultural sector. So people are selling their land and moving into the city to find jobs. Once in the city people find that land is extremely expensive, so they squat on the public land owned by the Railroad Authority of Thailand (RAT). Since the land is government owned, it is only available for rent, which is expensive. It is helpful for the people to come together and form groups, but there are no shelters available for the squatters who can't afford rent. The Assembly of the Poor helps to organize the squatters into groups. Boonjear is currently on a trip in North America to talk about his experiences and share them with others. 

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