Fellow Since 1990
Appropriate Technology Development for Rural
This profile was prepared when Chaiwat Yaowapongsiri was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
During Thailand's technological revolution of the past 30 years, gaining knowledge and capability in technical areas has been as sure a route to an improved way of life. To the extent that they cannot afford expensive, and largely imported, "modern" technology, Thailand's rural majority missed out on the revolution. Instead of processing the food and other resources they produce to increase the value and potential profits, they sell them as low-priced commodities.This process is dispiriting. It builds the sense of helplessness that is such a core component of poverty. The rural majority have come to see themselves as technologically inept, backward, and unable to take charge of their fates.Chaiwat is bringing technology to these forgotten Thais. Working in significant part through the country's growing number of citizen organizations and NGOs, he has set himself the ambitious task of disseminating technology to the people, of helping them to look to themselves and to the resources within their reach to create opportunities. They can then begin to raise their standard of living through a variety of means such as building their own improved water systems and processing their agricultural products so as to sell them at higher prices.