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Social marketing to address sexual health.

37 years of sustained impact.

In 1974, economist Mechai Viravaidya launched an initiative to improve family planning in Thailand, stirred by the adverse effects of high population growth on the rural poor. Through a community-based approach infused with humor and innovation, the Population and Community Development Association has since reached one-third of the population, whilst contributing substantially to a decrease in annual population growth from 3.3 percent to 0.6 percent in three decades. 

Nicknamed the ‘Condom King’, Viravaidya believes condoms should be as accessible as vegetables in a market. His eco-friendly restaurant chain, ‘Cabbages and Condoms’, welcomes guests with colourful condoms decorating its tables and lamps. Beyond the unique social marketing qualities of these businesses – which include hotels, resorts and gift shops – the combined revenues serve to support nearly 70 percent of the programs delivered by the Population and Community Development Association, contributing to its sustainability. 

In addition to driving a successful national HIV/AIDS campaign and providing traditional family planning services throughout Thailand – such as condoms, oral contraceptives and vasectomies – the ‘King’ is best known for his light-hearted awareness-raising. The organization’s other inventive initiatives include ‘Condom Nights’ and ‘Miss Anti-AIDS Beauty Pageants’ in Bangkok’s popular sex districts, enabling Viravaidya and his team to target and reach the most at-risk populations.

(Photo © PDA)