Cross-border transportation networks have expanded throughout Southeast Asia over the past two decades. One of these, The East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) resulted in the economic and cultural integration of communities across borders. During the COVID-19 pandemic movement was disrupted with potentially grave consequences for the welfare of the cross-border community’s inhabitants. This presentation discusses the results of the project, “Sustainable Cross-Border Community Development and Management in the East-West Economic Corridor in the time of COVID-19”, which was supported by the Toyota International Grant Program 2020. The project worked with cross-border communities located at the two international EWEC border crossings of Savannakhet, Laos/Mukdahan, Thailand, and Mae Sot, Thailand/Myawaddy, Myanmar. The project examined the changes occurring to people’s livelihoods and within the cross-border communities and assessed the impacts of COVID-19. Co-learning, participatory approaches were used in the project to support development of cross-border management capacity so that border communities can better collaborate to share issues and work together on solutions, and develop long-term peaceful integration. Key findings include: (1) identification of cross-border networks; local people cross borders through both permanent and traditional/natural checkpoints; (2) impacts of the EWEC; positive impact such as new employment opportunities were found, while negative impacts such as loss of land, less solidarity and drug addiction were pointed out; (3) impacts of COVID-19, negative impacts including loss of income from: trading, fishing, sand mining, tourists, agricultural labour, and new social crime, were recorded; and (4) cross-border issues related to agriculture, commerce and environment were identified.
Yuko Shirai, Kyoto Seika University, Japan
Stephen Leisz, Colorado State University, United States
Suchint Simaraks, Institute of E-SSAN Research for Local Development Foundation, Thailand
Bounheuang Ninchaleune, Savannakhet University, Laos
About the Presenter(s)
Yuko Shirai has been conducting interdisciplinary research in rural peasant communities in Southeast Asia for over twenty years. Shirai focuses on understanding rural people’s livelihoods, and the challenges they are facing.
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See this presentation on the full schedule – Saturday Schedule