Lower Mekong Journalists Enhance Reporting on Water and Climate Change

Twenty-one journalists from the Lower Mekong region boosted their knowledge and skills in reporting on water and climate change through a workshop and story grants organised by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN), with support from Australian Aid and the Australian Water Partnership (AWP).

In early January 2024, participants joined a workshop on ‘Enhancing Inclusivity in Reporting Water and Climate’ in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they learned the interdependencies of water and climate through many aspects ― from river governance and nature-based solutions to indigenous people’s knowledge in water conservation.

Journalists from the Lower Mekong countries discussed the interdependencies of water and climate during the EJN’s Enhancing Inclusivity in Reporting Water and Climate workshop supported by Australian Aid and Australian Water Partnership. Credit: EJN

The event also discussed how to incorporate gender equality, disability, and social inclusion into water-climate stories, explored the water data portal and research provided by the Mekong River Commission and AWP, and visited a Lahu indigenous community to learn how members applied local knowledge in maintaining water resources.

“Taking part in this workshop is one of the most valuable lessons learned and experiences at the beginning of my 2024. I could deepen my knowledge of the correlation between water and climate change as well as critically think of stories of these issues in connection to GEDSI,” said Ousa Rin, a journalist from Cambodianess and Thmey Thmey.

“During the field trip, I was amazed at the Lahu community’s implementation of sustainable water management to combat climate change.”

Participants joined the workshop from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam where climate change threatens water security and causes extreme weather events, including severe floods and drought.

Released by GermanWatch, the 2021 Climate Risk Index ranked Myanmar and Thailand at 2nd and 9th among 182 countries that suffered the most from extreme weather between 2000 and 2019. Vietnam and Cambodia are ranked 13th and 14th, respectively.

Journalists from the Lower Mekong countries visited the forest persevered by the Lahu indigenous community in Chiang Rai, Thailand, during the EJN’s Enhancing Inclusivity in Reporting Water and Climate workshop supported by Australian Aid and Australian Water Partnership. Credit: EJN

Yet, these countries are not ready for climate change, reflecting in the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative’s country index that ranks all five lower Mekong countries below 100 among the 185 countries most ready to battle climate change.

This resonates with the need to support local journalists to address the urgency of climate change and its impacts on the water sector, as well as the solutions to address them.

“Attending this workshop is a valuable opportunity for me in my journey toward becoming an environmental journalist. Various courses during this workshop taught me how to effectively use gender perspectives when reporting on water security and climate change,” said An Thu Dinh, a Vietnamese journalist from Tia Sang Magazine.

“Additionally, this workshop enables me to connect with colleagues from other countries, particularly in the Lower Mekong region. We recognize our common challenges through these connections and work together to find solutions.”

After the workshop, all journalists were invited to submit the story pitches. Ten of those with the best story pitches have received story grants and mentorship to produce further articles.

The workshop, story grants, and mentorship are part of a six-month project called “Supporting media engagement on water-climate issues in Lower Mekong” that also includes other activities such as engaging journalists with water experts at COP28 and the 10th World Water Forum held in Bali, Indonesia, this May.

Story grantees hail from organisations across the Mekong including Cambodianess, Thmey Thmey, and CamboJa News in Cambodia; The Vientiane Times and The Laotian Times, Laos; DVB, VOA and The Nation Voice in Myanmar; Prachatham in Thailand; and Tia Sang and Mekong Eye, Vietnam.


Featured image: 21 journalists from the Lower Mekong countries joined the Enhancing Inclusivity in Reporting Water and Climate workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on January 10-12. Credit: EJN
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