Capacity Building through Action Research – A Case Study of Waste Management among Industrial Migrant Workers in Labor Camp, Hatyai, Thailand

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Sukhon Chaichana
Pitchaya Phakthongsuk
Jawanit Kittitornkool
Peerapat Kosolsakakul


Despite ensuring that compliance with international labor standards is crucial to Thai export-oriented manufacturers who employ migrant workers, relatively little is known about how to manage an effective program for the well-being of migrant workers. The objective of this study was to encourage all key stakeholders to work together for a remediation plan to solve an existing problem through action research. The method of action research needs to be applied to develop a continuing learning process, action for change which includes group decision, and a commitment to improve real situations. The study was carried out in a migrant worker camp of the large seafood plant in Hat Yai city, Songkhla Province, Thailand during 2016-2017. Primarily, a tripartite taskforce, that included migrant worker representatives, factory staff personnel, and a governmental health center as academic supporters including the researcher, was engaged to develop a one-year program which consisted of two phases. Phase I emphasized the taskforce capacity building on community health diagnosis and program management while phase II gave priority to program implementation and evaluation. A solid waste management (SWM) problem was identified and planned for intervention based on two strategies: (i) knowledge and raising awareness and (ii) management of the 3Rs (i.e. reduce, reuse, recycle). The lessons learned and the limitations of the SWM program implementation were evaluated. A before-after intervention analysis was performed to determine the program effectiveness and illustrate the incremental changes of knowledge, attitude, and practice of the 3Rs. Likewise, waste weight, waste per capita, cost of municipal waste elimination, revenues from sales of recycling material, and the number of animal vectors from the SWM program were evaluated. This study affirmed the feasibility of capacity building through action research and its benefit to enable the effectiveness among registered migrant workers in the export manufacturing sector.


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