The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) was founded in 1974 as a non-governmental organization with the initial aim to complement the efforts of the Royal Thai Government in promoting family planning in Thailand, especially in areas where knowledge and access to services were scarce. Utilizing a participatory, community-based approach, PDA recruited and trained residents of villages and urban neighborhoods to provide information on family planning, including the supervised, non-medical distribution of oral contraceptives. This distribution network covered more than one-third of the country, thus contributing significantly to the decrease in the annual population growth rate from 3.3% in the mid-1970s to 0.6% in 2005. During the same period, the number of children per family fell from 7 to under two.
After addressing the immediate family planning needs, PDA expanded its activities to include primary health care, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, water resource development and sanitation, income-generation, environmental conservation, promotion of small-scale rural enterprise programs, gender equality, youth development, and democracy promotion. Most recently, PDA has aggressively approached the problem of rural poverty by empowering the poor through the Village Development Partnership, which establishes a community-owned Village Development Bank for the purpose of microcredit.
Today, PDA is the leading and most diversified NGO in Thailand, employing over 800 staff members and working with over 12,000 volunteers. PDA has 18 regional development centers and branch offices located across 15 provinces in rural Thailand. It also manages operation of the Lamplaimat-Pattana Primary and Secondary Schools, which is revolutionary, private education for the poor.
PDA has pioneered sustainable grassroots endeavors, marked by extensive villager involvement not only as beneficiaries, but also as partners, planners, managers, and leaders. PDA’s programs are based on the belief that local people are best suited to be an equal partner in shaping and sustaining their own development. 35 years of PDA’s involvement has created significant change in the following areas:
• Health, AIDS & Family Planning
• Income Generation & Poverty Reduction
• Rural Microcredit
• Water & Environmental
• Youth as Agents of Change Today and Leaders of Tomorrow
• Education & Nutrition
• Corporate Social Responsibility - The Village Development Partnership
• Emergency Relief Services (CBERS)
• Asian Center for Population and Community Development (ACPD)
• NGO Sustainability
• Human Rights Promotion
PDA and its leaders have been recognized internationally by various organizations for their work in making lasting, systemic changes in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Two of the programs have been recognized as Best Practices by UNAIDS. The PBS television special, “Rx for Survival”, highlighted PDA’s pioneering successes in family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as in the area of changing attitudes and behavior towards delivering services to the rural poor. Representatives of organizations from nearly fifty countries have come to Thailand to learn about PDA’s successes through PDA’s international training arm. Another acknowledgement of PDA’s key contributions came from the World Bank, in November 2005, which estimated that seven million lives were saved from HIV/AIDS through the intensive public education and prevention program designed and introduced to the public through PDA. PDA's Chairman, Mechai Viravaidya, was awarded the Gates Award for Global Health in 2007 for the pioneering work in HIV/AIDS prevention, and the organization was awarded the 2008 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship