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Study of Special and Interstitial Populations

supported by ADB

Interstitial populations are groups that, due to their involvement in trade and transportation, link areas across borders. They are usually linguistically distinct from the majority populations in the regions where they work – and often they are multilingual. Distinct from ‘migrants’, who move from one source area to a different destination and stay, interstitial groups move continuously back and forth from one destination to another. Subsequently, these elusive groups are difficult to effectively target with education messages. Examples of these groups are Chinese traders in Lao PDR and Thailand, Cambodian and Lao truck drivers in Thailand and China, and sex workers from several countries working in several other countries for brief periods of time.

UNESCO aims to conduct research on interstitial populations by designing evidence-based interventions for them that can ‘catch’ these populations at the right place and right time with HIV prevention information, in a culturally appropriate manner. 

To date, the project has focused on situation analysis and the identification of appropriate entry points for direct interventions among selected sites. 

Development of a Mapping Model

UNESCO has initiated the exploration of concepts of ‘temporal geographics’ and a ‘perpetual calendar’ to map interstitial populations, their movements, motives and activities in time and space.

As a pilot project, a database for vulnerable populations based on Myanmar festivals was developed. A demo programme will be available soon on this website for public exploration.

Consultant:
Timeframe:
Funding:
Dr. Owen Wrigley
2003-2004


Research Project 1: the Haw Chinese in Northern Thailand

The head of the Institute for Sociology within the Yunnan Academy for Social Sciences conducted a background assessment of the vulnerability of the “Haw” Chinese living in northern Thailand. Interviews were conducted among Yunnanese families who have relatives who moved to northern Thailand during the 40’s and 50’s.

Partner organizations:
Timeframe:
Funding:
Institute for Sociology, Yunnan Academy for Social Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China
September – December 2004


Research Project 2: The Lanten Yao of Muang Long

A Lanten weaver

Dr. Jacques Lemoine, anthropologist and specialist of the Yao and Hmong populations spent two months conducting research on and with the Lanten Yao in Luang Namtha province, Lao PDR, in 2001.
The purpose of the research was two-fold:
• To ascertain and analyze Lanten patterns of mobility and trade, particularly in regards to connections with China, in preparation for the expansion of the GIS-Linked Social Sentinel Surveillance to the Lao-China Border.
• To gather information on Lanten concepts of the origins, etiology, transmission mechanisms and prevention of disease, as these apply to HIV/AIDS. Particularly, local conceptions of risk factors is isolated and considered.

Read Dr. Lemoine’s article: “Social Fabric, Education and HIV Vulnerability among the Lanten Yao of Muang Long, Luang Namtha Province, Lao PDR”

Consultant:
Timeframe:
Funding:
Dr. Jacques Lemoine
November – December 2001
UN Inter-Agency Project on the Trafficking of Women and Children in the Mekong Sub-region





Project 3: Cross-Border Movement and Migration in Yunnan Province

UNESCO will supervise the translation into English of a manuscript on cross-border movement and migration written by researchers at the Institute of Sociology at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences.

Partner organizations:
Timeframe:
Funding:
Institute for Sociology, Yunnan Academy for Social Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China
2005
UN Inter-Agency Project on the Trafficking of Women and Children in the Mekong Sub-region