M.L. Dispanadda Diskul, CEO of Mae Fah Luang Foundation, was the keynote speaker on the topic “The Future of Alternative Development” at the 11th International Influences on Drug Abuse organised jointly by the Office of Narcotics Control Board, Chulalongkorn University and other alliances to create awareness on the proliferation, prevention and mitigation of drug abuse in Thailand and overseas, to stimulate real implementation, and to develop the potential of researchers, academics and practitioners working in the field of narcotic drugs.
Drug issues have now evolved from narcotic crops to synthetic drugs. Data from UNODC show that narcotic crop cultivation in this region has decreased, while synthetic drug abuse has increased. A total of 26% of trafficking of methamphetamines and Crystal Meth in Thailand is from neighboring countries, resulting in a high mitigation cost of 5,500 million USD.
Drug mitigation normally takes the form of prevention and suppression as a strategic measure. But Alternative Development takes a different perspective, seeing that those who are caught up in the vicious cycle of drug trafficking break the law because they have no choice and no opportunity in life. If poverty still persists, and society does not provide an opportunity for them to have a new life, the problems will remain unsolved. Only if they can be provided with better income opportunities and an improved way of life can the problems be solved in a sustainable manner.
Having implemented projects in the field of Alternative Development, both in Doi Tung Development Project area, other outreach areas in Thailand and abroad for several decades, Mae Fah Luang Foundation has proved that “Alternative Development” can not only solve problems of narcotic crop cultivation–an issue in the past–but also synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines and Crystal Meth, which are major issues today.