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Background on the HPS I & II

In Thailand, highland ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among stateless populations.  UNESCO research shows that the single greatest risk factor for trafficking, unsafe migration, and HIV is lack of Thai citizenship. Furthermore, the greatest factor contributing to exploitation and differential access to information and social services, such as education, health care, and land tenure, is also lack of citizenship.

30% to 60% of highlanders, residing predominately in the mountainous northern region of the country, are without Thai citizenship.

In order to address these issues, UNESCO has collaborated with the U.K. Embassy, Bangkok and the Thai Bureau of Social Development and Human Security (BSD) since 2004 on the ongoing project, “Promoting Human Rights for Highland Minorities through Citizenship and Birth Registration.” The greater project is comprised of quantitative and qualitative research on the impacts of statelessness on highland populations, mainly the Highland Peoples’ Survey (HPS I & II)—the largest, most current household survey of highland groups in northern Thailand to address statelessness and access to social services. Upon the completion of the first wave of the survey (HPS I), the second wave (HPS II) was designed and implemented in order to increase the scope the survey, address gaps in knowledge, and identify socioeconomic and legal conditions of highland groups in light of recent policy changes concerning Thai educational, health, and citizenship issues. In addition to the support from the UK Embassy, the “UN Joint Programme on Integrated Highland Livelihood Development in Mae Hong Son” will also contribute to the expansion of the survey.

UNESCO’s overall project on promoting human rights for highlanders and its involvement in the UN Joint Program will include the development and dissemination of information on current citizenship laws and regulations. This will include culturally-appropriate and locally relevant citizenship training for local NGOs, government officials, and village heads in Mae Hong Son and the production of media on citizenship in local languages, including Karen, Lahu, Lisu, Akha, Hmong, Mien, Shan, and Northern Thai.

HPS I (2006)

• Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son
• 192 border villages, 12,000 households and 64,000 individuals
• 17 ethnic groups, including ethnic Thais; predominate hill tribes included the Lahu, Karen, Akha, Hmong, Lisu, and Mien

Findings from the household roster surveys:
Citizenship: More than 30% of highlanders did not have citizenship.
Birth Registration: 50% of youth without birth registration did not receive it simply due to the fact that their parents did not understand the procedure or did not think that it was important
Education: Highlanders without official citizenship were 73% less likely to enter primary school compared to highlanders with citizenship and 94% less likely to enter secondary school. Compared to ethnic Thais living in the highlands, hill tribe groups were approximately 95% less likely to enter primary school.
Healthcare: Highlanders without citizenship were 99% less likely to have healthcare.
Land rights: At the gross level, hill tribe groups were between 16% (Lahu) and 93% (Mien) less likely than ethnic Thais to have the right to own land.

HPS II (2010)

• Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Kanchanaburi, and Tak
• 308 border villages and 15,968 households
• Data will again be disaggregated by ethnicity and sex for all residing households.

The installation of the HPS II include the following additional components and information:
Village module: Information on community-level factors impacting legal status of villagers.
School module: Information on quality of accessible education for villagers.
Household module: More information on livelihoods, land & food security, income generation, access to healthcare, and HIV knowledge and stigma.
Expansion of the household roster: More information on birth registration and application process for Thai citizenship, patterns of migration and mobility, and utilization of government healthcare.

Results are currently being analyzed and will be available for browsing soon.

For an example of how the information from the HPS I & II can be used, check out the Village Health Volunteer (VHV) and Household Heads HIV Knowledge graphs below put together by Mrs. Stephanie Gay. These graphs show the percent of VHV or Household Heads to correctly identify six true-false statements on HIV transmission.

VHV HIV Knowledge by Language Spoken at Home

Household Heads HIV Knowledge by Province

Househole Heads HIV Knowledge by Language Spoken at Home

For more infomation on Mrs. Gay's work, visit her subproject page here.