ZOA Refugee Care has been assisting Burmese refugees in the camps on the Thai-Burmese border since 1984. After more than 24 years of implementation support, ZOA is now in the process of phasing-over its programme activities to a new, local NGO, as well as to a wide range of partners including other international NGOs, CBOs and other Thai institutions. This process of phasing-over will start in 2009 and be completed shortly after the end of 2011. ZOA is operational in seven camps on the Thai-Burmese border, providing support to the education programme, through which refugee community members are given the opportunity to enjoy quality basic and non-formal education, as well as vocational training, thus helping to lay a stable foundation for improved quality of life outside the confines of the refugee camps.
In this education programme, ZOA already collaborates intensively with local, community-based organisations and with several international NGOs within the framework of the coordination committee (CCSDPT), as well as Thai institutions. The new local NGO that will be established will consist to a large extent of present local ZOA staff members. ZOA will remain committed to continuing to support this new organisation. In this way, ZOA will be staying true to the commitment of ‘we stay’, but in the more responsible and sustainable way of strengthening local capacity. The plans for this process of change are generally being viewed in a positive light by the donor and NGO partner community as it aims to break the repetitive cycle, which has created a level of dependency that is no longer useful. In addition to working with the new NGO, cooperation with existing local partners will be intensified. In line with the current ZOA mandate in Thailand, the organisation intends to engage in a process of institutional capacity-building that will enable local refugee partners to assume greater levels of implementation responsibility. These will be supported by clear supervision and monitoring systems according to acceptable accountability standards. The secondment of staff members and channelling of funding to new implementing agencies is also seen as an appropriate strategy. After all, ZOA considers its job to be done when local organisations are in a position to continue the work according to agreed standards.