Ideas for Provincial Guidelines
for Implementation of CERCAP

The holistic crisis-response organization of Thailand could be seen as involving the following four key elements at each level from the national to the local (the national equivalents are listed in brackets):
  1. A Leader to provide a clear centre of responsibility (The Prime Minister)
  2. A deliberative, decision-making body or assembly (the NSPC)
  3. An administrative implementing capacity, as a one-stop centre or focal point (the CERCAP Secretariat/Task Force)
  4. A Network of all partners and stakeholders at that level (but including key ones from adjacent levels) (National Crisis-response Network in process of formation)

Figure 1 reflects this rendering of the entire holistic crisis-response organization.

In order to perform the crisis response functions effectively on a countrywide basis, and given the governance and administrative organization of Thailand, the NSPC now has to facilitate the creation of the rest of the organization at the sub-national levels. Without such a countrywide organization, it will not be possible to tap the considerable resources and capacities for crisis-response that already exist at these levels. How could that be done?

A holistic crisis-response organization effectively to cover the whole country

The first step would be to summon the entire governance organization of the country to assume responsibility for crisis-response within their jurisdiction. (Thai governance organization could arguably be seen as including civil society and private sector representatives, if not formally, at least informally and as a matter of regular practice.)

The Prime Minister has already taken an important initiative in this regard by instructing the eight ministries involved in community development to rationalize their projects countrywide in a move to accelerate decentralization and save billions of baht every year.

The crisis-response organization must be consistent with this approach and could reinforce it very significantly, in particular by facilitating the integration of programmes through the holistic crisis-response organization approach.

Along the same lines of the reported government crisis management approach, it would be a logical step to ask the provincial governors to mobilize the provincial administrative apparatus to act as a holistic crisis-response organization in addressing the social impacts of the crisis in the province. In other words they would be asked to assign crisis-response roles to each level of administration within the province, within the framework and guidelines provided by the NSPC. This would include mobilizing the provincial civil society and private sector by networking with them and bringing them into these administrative organizations for the purposes of crisis management.

The four components of the holistic crisis-response organization could be defined as follows:

  1. The Crisis-response Leaders.
  1. The Decision-making Body
  1. The One-stop Crisis Centre

    The Crisis-response leader at each level would identify an office as the one place where all matters related to the crisis would be handled. This would include the MIS, other information and communications, complaints and inquiries. The officers of ministries at the provincial and district levels would be expected to work through the one-stop centre at that level in dealing with crisis matters. The crisis centres at the various levels would be linked and would relay information throughout the system from the centre to the local level.

  2. The Crisis-response Network
Basic principles of the HCO

The basic principles that could govern the holistic crisis-response organization and process would be:

  1. Inclusiveness – target all Thais anywhere in the country who have been worse affected by the crisis on the basis on national guidelines, ensuring gender balance
  2. Address all legitimate needs, regardless of sector
  3. Advocate and support local action on local solutions
  4. Build local self-reliance
  5. Build sustainable, crisis-resilient solutions.
These principles would be central to the crisis-response social mobilization campaign and would be promoted at all levels by the leaders and focal points.

Why one-stop crisis-response centres at every level?

The same logic that led to the establishment of the NSPC at the national level applies at every level: There is a need for a holistic, efficient response that provides universal access and coverage. This can be achieved only through a clearly identified, easily accessible and efficient one-stop centre or focal point at every level. Factors of scale make it inefficient and uneconomical to have remote centres.

A one-stop centre should not be seen as implying a completely new organization, specially set up to deal with the crisis, with all the incumbent high initial costs and unsustainable operating costs. This option the country cannot afford and the crisis does not warrant.

The one-stop centre idea should rather be seen as a crisis-response function added to an existing organization with the necessary enhancement of capacities that might be required. What is needed is a clearly identified and easily accessible focal point, which is the essential idea of a ‘one-stop centre.’ The offices of the leaders at every level would be an obvious choice. A specific person could be assigned as Crisis-response Focal Point, with phone, fax and mobile numbers and e-mail address.

As the crisis is hopefully a very temporary phenomenon, this could be a temporary arrangement and the existing organizations could return to normal operation as soon as it is over. But it would also be a learning experience for these organizations. They might operate differently after the crisis as a result of this experience, and be more ready to deal with any future crisis. This option is cost-effective, efficient and appropriate in the context of Thailand’s existing administrative and governance organization, as well as a sound investment in the long-term development of the country’s social and institutional infrastructure.

The idea then would be not to set up new one-stop crisis-response centres, but to mobilize the existing governance organization to assume responsibility for dealing with the crisis within their jurisdictions through a one-stop centre that will perform four vital functions for effective crisis management:

At the provincial level, the existing economic crisis centre established by DOLA would be become the nodal point for the one-stop centres at the other levels in the province. All that needs to be done is to make its mandate holistic to deal with all crisis-related matters. It would act as a focal point for the flow of information from the national level, as well as from the district level. It would act as a secretariat for the provincial holistic crisis-response organization and would feed the provincial network with information from the other levels. In addition to all standard equipment and capacities, it should ideally have an Internet connection to access information on national web-sites. It would deal with all residual issues from within the province that are referred to this level by the districts, seeking national support where necessary. Only issues that remain intractable at the provincial level would then be referred to the national level.

This entire organization would be responsible for ensuring that only matters that have defied its efforts to resolve at local levels, would reach the Prime Minister’s office, where "the buck stops", inevitably. If it functioned effectively, it could be expected to produce the following results:

In other words, it could be estimated that as much as 99 per cent of the matters that are referred to a higher level would be dealt with at the provincial level or below, with only about 1 per cent going all the way to the national level. The effectiveness of these centres in settling matters at their own level will be directly related to the extent to which they are empowered with meaningful delegation of decision-making, including funding decisions.

The respective roles of the Holistic Crisis-response Organizations (HCO) at each Level

There is a core set of functions that have to be performed at each level for that jurisdiction for the optimal effectiveness of the CERCAP. But there are also roles and responsibilities specific to each level that are critical for effectiveness at that level.

  1. National or Central
  1. Provincial
  1. District
  1. Tambon
  1. Village
The process for establishing the crisis-response organization

The proposed crisis-response organization obviously cannot be established from the center acting alone. That would be ineffective and inconsistent with the decentralized structure of governance in Thailand. What would be envisaged is a cascading series of empowerment initiatives initiated by the NSPC, along the following lines:

  1. The Prime Minister invites the Provincial Governors along with key civic society, private sector, academic and media leaders to a workshop to launch the crisis-response organization.
  2. Each Provincial Governor takes similar provincial level action by bringing together district leaders to launch the provincial crisis-response organization and campaign, and to identify the provincial one-stop crisis-response centre.
  3. Each Chief District Officer takes similar action at the district level by bringing together tambon leaders to launch district crisis-response organization, identify the district one-stop response centre, and to mobilize tambon leaders to set up tambon crisis-response centres and launch tambon campaigns
  4. Each tambon leader takes initiative to convene village leaders to launch tambon crisis-response organization and campaign, identify the tambon one-stop centre, and to mobilize village leaders to launch village campaigns
  5. Each village leader mobilizes the community to address the impact of the crisis, organize participatory decision-making process to analyze the situation and plan a community response programme and identify village one-stop centre.

 The shades of gray reflect the expectation that many lower level units will start initiatives as soon as the national campaign is launched rather than wait for the formal cascading process. The latter, however, will be required to cover the whole country and to ensure a universal response.

The Community Support Core Team (CSCT)

The CSCT at the tambon level is the front line holistic mechanism of the Thai governance system to deliver support to the local communities for response to the crisis. It is intended to provide a single interface between these communities and the various government ministerial and other agency programmes, as well as other outside agencies, such as NGO’s, private sector companies and foreign donors.

The following are some thoughts on its composition and role:


Role and Functions

The key words in the role of the CSCT are ‘COMMUNITY SUPPORT’.

The role of the CSCT would involve the following functions:

Regional Learning Networks

The CERCAP relies on a strategy of learning-by-doing, rather than up front capacity development to prepare people at all levels to implement the plan. This strategy makes it all the more important to have an effective monitoring and learning strategy to identify learning opportunities and challenges.

This learning function is built into the holistic crisis response organization and does not require a separate set of organizations or preplanned programmes. It is the other side of the implementation coin: the same people and organizations that implement CERCAP will also initiate and activate the learning processes and events.

For this purpose of accelerating learning it is necessary to conceptualize and organize learning processes on a regional basis through Regional Learning Networks that are linked into and constitute a National Learning Network. This side of the CERCAP coin is described in a separate set of guidelines for the Regional Learning Networks, which is a companion to these guidelines and those for Local Community Empowerment.


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Dated: 28Jul1999