UCDO was tasked with providing loans to organized communities for land
acquisition, housing construction, housing improvement, and income generation.
The $50 million fund was initially placed under the National Housing Authority
(NHA) to enable rapid establishment. The organization was governed by
a board of directors comprising of government staff, academic experts
and community representatives; the board institutionalized partnerships
and brought together different interest groups.
As a special unit within NHA, UCDO was able to operate
with considerable freedom and flexibility, shielding it from the conventional
system of bureaucratic control. The UCDO Board was directly responsible
for policy planning, implementation and the appointment of the managing
director, while the director developed systems, practices and a staff
Initially, the primary activities of UCDO included providing
loans to communities for their housing and land needs. Interest rates
were subsidized by the government, allowing communities to repay them.
However, they were high enough to allow the initial fund to be sustained
and to cover administrative costs.
Because of difficulty in scaling up its work, UCDO began
linking individual savings groups together in the form of networks or
federations. UCDO loans were provided not only to communities, but also
to community networks who then on-lent to their member organizations.
Additional programs were spearheaded, including a community-managed
environmental improvement project funded by the Danish-government, a Thai
and Japanese government sponsored fund to assist savings groups in repaying
loans after the 1997 financial crisis.
As savings schemes became stronger, increasing emphasis
was given to linking community groups with city authorities, which then
developed into city-based networks able to initiate and manage city-wide
UCDO and Rural Development
Fund merge to form CODI
In 2000, UCDO officially merged with the Rural Development Fund to become
a new public organization called the Community Organizations Development
Institute (CODI). The government mandate that brought CODI into existence
allowed CODI to operate as an independent public organization, providing
greater possibilities, additional flexibility, wider linkages and expanded
possibilities for collaboration between urban and rural groups. CODI could
apply to annual government budget directly in order to finance additional
After CODIís inception, the primary challenge was merging
rural and urban strategies and methodologies. CODI applied many of the
lessons of urban community organizing, housing finance, welfare funds
and savings groups to the rural setting.
Baan Mankong Collective
In January 2003, the Thai government announced a policy
to provide secure housing to one million poor households within five years.
This ambitious target was to be met through two programs. In the first,
the Baan Ua Arthorn Program ("We care"
in Thai), the National Housing Authority designs, constructs
and sells ready-to-occupy flats and houses at subsidized rates to lower-income
applicants on a "rent-to-own" basis.
The second, Baan Mankong Collective Housing
Program ("Secure housing" in Thai), channels government
funds, in the form of infrastructure subsidies and soft housing loans,
directly to poor communities. Through local collaborations for land tenure
security negotiations and arrangements, communities plan and carry out
improvements to their housing, infrastructure, and environment, and manage
their finances collectively for all aspects of development.
Instead of delivering housing units to individual poor families, the Baan
Mankong Program encourages existing slum communities to form co-ops and
develop their housing in a collective way; each participating community
would end up having a collective land title. This method is designed to
discourage speculators from buying off individual housing units from the
poor and selling them out to higher income groups. Collective housing
provides the security for low-income families so that they can have access
to jobs in the city - usually as day laborers and street vendors - and
where they can have the opportunity to get out of poverty.
The Baan Mankong Program is only possible with the commitment
of the central government to allow people to be the core actors and to
decentralize the solution-finding process to cities. In August 2005, the
Thai Government approved a 4-year plan to improve slum communities and
develop housing in 200 cities in the country.