This programme builds upon traditions of self-organisation and management that were evident among refugee leaders since the first large known camps began to form in 1984.
Rice, fish-paste and other early aid items were recorded, distributed and meticulously accounted for in a typewritten report that became a monthly tradition that survives to this day.
The leadership and management model that has evolved and developed in the camps since has been described as in many ways unique.
It has seen refugees, TBC and other NGO partners working together in close cooperation over the course of more than three decades, and has ensured that refugee leaders have taken important roles in the design and implementation of camp programmes.
Camp Committees are in charge of the day-to-day operations of the sites that are in many ways like villages or towns.
Sub-committees, section leaders, working groups and stipend workers implement food distribution, shelter upkeep, agriculture and livelihoods initiatives and many other tasks, while civil society organisations take a lead in providing social services to vulnerable groups in the communities.
This programme aims mainly to further strengthen refugee leadership in management and governance, promote more meaningful refugee community participation, and support preparedness for voluntary return.
An important part of the programme is its support for democratic elections of camp leaders. Elections are held in each camp every three years.
30 percent of camp leadership positions were held by women, while ethnic minority communities in each camp had 13 percent representation in section-leadership roles.
For example, elections were held in July 2017 in Ban Mai Nai Soi and Ban Mae Surin camps in Mae Hong Son province.Voter turnout was 75 percent in the first camp and 93 percent in the latter location for the polls to elect a new Karenni National Refugee Committee (KnRC) committee and camp committee members. A relatively high participation of women voters was seen and one woman was elected a member of the four-person Ban Mai Soi Camp Committee. The first woman leader of Ban Mae Surin camp, Shally Than, was elected in 2010. Four years later, Naw Moe Boe became leader of Ban Mai Nai Soi camp.
Elections continue to take place on a regular basis.