Articles | Volume 12, issue 8
Research article
22 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 22 Aug 2012

Socio-economic vulnerability of coastal communities in southern Thailand: the development of adaptation strategies

P. Willroth, F. Massmann, R. Wehrhahn, and J. Revilla Diez

Abstract. The tsunami of December 2004 impacted large areas of Thailand's coastline and caused severe human and economic losses. The recovery period revealed differences in the vulnerabilities of communities affected. An understanding of the causal factors of vulnerability is crucial for minimising the negative effects of future threats and developing adaptive capacities. This paper analyses the vulnerabilities and the development of adaptation strategies in the booming tourist area of Khao Lak and in the predominantly fishing and agricultural area of Ban Nam Khem through a comprehensive vulnerability framework. The results show that social networks played a crucial role in coping with the disaster. Social cohesion is important for strengthening the community and developing successful adaptation strategies. The development of tourism and the turning away from traditional activities have a significant positive influence on the income situation, but create a dependency on a single business sector. It could be shown that households generating their income in the tourism sector were vulnerable unless they had diversified their income previously. Income diversification decreased the vulnerability in the study areas. Adaptation strategies and processes developed in the aftermath clearly address these issues.