Thailand’s Royal Doi Tung Development Project serves as an international model for successful opium eradication
Doi Tung, a mountainous region in Northern Thailand that was once a key piece in the Golden Triangle opium trade, is now almost opium free. What is the cause of this positive transformation? The Royal Doi Tung Development is largely responsible.
Initiated in the late 1980s by Thailand’s Princess Mother, Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Boromarajajonani, the Doi Tung Project started off with a simple concept – giving people who were working in the poppy fields new job opportunities selling coffee, pottery, clothes, or paper. They also set up a drug rehabilitation center for those suffering from opium addiction in the region – as a significant number of the poppy field workers had become opium addicts.
When the project first began, many Thai people employed by the opium industry were skeptical and scared to switch professions, worrying that it wouldn’t earn them as much money or security as the poppy business did. After a couple of brave trailblazers shared their successes with the larger community however, word spread and more joined. In addition, many people began seeking rehab for their personal addictions.
The Project’s holistic approach to development and rehabilitation is one that we wholeheartedly support and one that has made the project and the region an international model for opium eradication. As opposed to imposing penalties, making arrests, or ignoring the disease of addiction, this project provides people with opportunities to move beyond what they thought possible.
So we have seen it work in Thailand, but can this model – or at least elements of it – be practically applied in other countries also struggling with the impacts of opium production and addiction? Read the full article to find out more.