Children in construction site camps in Thailand face multiple challenges, and the solutions exist; what’s needed now is action, says a new report launched today by UNICEF and Baan Dek Foundation.The report also puts forth a Framework for Action that recommends 12 concrete actions that companies can take to make a real difference in the lives of these children nation-wide.
The report, titled Building Futures in Thailand: Support to Children Living in Construction Site Camps, highlights four main challenges affecting the well-being of migrant children living in the construction site camps:
Infrastructure: A lack of appropriate facilities, with many sites lacking adequate showers and toilets, and with existing facilities not separated by gender, putting children at risk of sexual abuse.
Rights: An increased risk of social exclusion, discrimination, and exposure to neglect and violence, with nine out of 10 children reporting that they have either witnessed adults fighting or have experienced some form of physical violence from their parents or guardians.
Health: Inadequate access to health care, with one in five parents saying that some of the children in their families have not received basic vaccinations and nearly half saying that some of their children do not have an active health card.
Education: Most of these children are not in schools, and barriers to education include frequent moves, not being aware of their right to education, not understanding the language of instruction, and the costs of attending school that are not covered by the government.
The report provides an insight into current and recent initiatives, by various stakeholders, demonstrating not only the benefits for children, but also the increased business opportunities that these companies experience, positive brand perceptions among investors, and improved labour retention and productivity. The 12-point Framework for Action gives companies a set of 12 concrete actions that companies can take to make a big difference to the lives children of the migrant workers they employ.
Several real estate and construction companies in Thailand have started using these initiatives to improve the well-being of these children. These include safe spaces or children within camps and training sessions for construction workers on how to access education and health services for their children. The Framework for Action shows how initiatives like these initiatives can be adopted by the sector, to help reach marginalized children in construction companies across the country.
“For several years, we’ve worked with dozens of companies to improve infrastructure, rights, health and education for the children living in their camps,” said Nicola Crosta, Founder of Baan Dek Foundation. “Proven solutions already exist, and they’ve even been shown to benefit the companies’ operations. What we need now is action. With this new data and Framework for Action, companies and other actors have a clear roadmap for how to improve the basic well-being of these children. By making these concrete improvements, this sector has the opportunity to set new norms that will benefit generations of vulnerable children.”
“Thailand has policies and laws in place that aim to allow every child in Thailand, including the children of migrant workers, to have access to basic services. In practice, though, many obstacles remain,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Representative for Thailand.“With the number of construction projects in Thailand only expected to grow in the coming years, now is the time to act. Now is the time for companies across the sector to take these issues to heart, to commit to the Framework for Action, and to start investing in these children and in Thailand’s future.”