21 Lower Mekong Journalists Attend Workshop to Improve Inclusive Coverage of Water and Climate Change

Group of people standing together and posing for a photo.
21 Lower Mekong Journalists Attend Workshop to Improve Inclusive Coverage of Water and Climate Change

Of 182 countries, Myanmar and Thailand were among the top ten countries most at risk from extreme weather between 2000 and 2019, according to the 2021 Climate Risk Index. Vietnam and Cambodia were not far behind, at 13th and 14th, respectively. In the Lower Mekong region, climate threats are threats to water security, manifesting most often as severe floods and drought.  

Yet, these countries are unprepared for the climate impacts they will continue to experience. The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative’s country index places all five Lower Mekong countries – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos – below 100th when it comes to bolstering climate resilience.  

At this juncture, local journalists bear the keen responsibility of informing the public about climate impacts on the water sector, as well as effective solutions to address them. To help meet this need, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN), with support from Australian Aid and the Australian Water Partnership (AWP), organized a workshop last month for 21 journalists to boost their knowledge and skills in reporting on water and climate change.  

Titled "Enhancing Inclusivity in Reporting Water and Climate", the workshop, was held from January 10-12 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, as part of a six-month project to support media engagement on water-climate issues in Lower Mekong.  

The media training included sessions on river governance and nature-based water management solutions. Journalists learned how to incorporate a gender equality, disability, and social inclusion (GEDSI) lens while reporting on water-climate stories – to recognize and highlight that women and marginalized communities bear the brunt of these threats.  

Participants explored the water data portal and recent research from the Mekong River Commission and AWP, and had the opportunity to visit a Lahu Indigenous community to learn how its members applied traditional knowledge to maintain water resources. 

Group of people standing together in a forest talking with each other.
Journalists visited the forest preserved by the Lahu Indigenous community in Chiang Rai, Thailand, as part of EJN’s Enhancing Inclusivity in Reporting Water and Climate media training workshop, supported by Australian Aid and Australian Water Partnership / Credit: EJN 

“Taking part in this workshop was one of the most valuable experiences. I was able to deepen my knowledge of the correlation between water and climate change as well as critically think of stories and their 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,” she added. 

A group of women standing together, analyzing a paper on top of a table.
Journalists discussed the interdependencies of water and climate and workshopped their story ideas together / Credit: EJN. 

“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.” 

"This workshop explored many case studies and concepts behind water management in the Lower Mekong region, and sparked debates on the right approach and how to ensure governance in the face of climate change. We were very excited to see journalist participants, mostly young, eager to explore the complexity of this issue," said Paritta Wangkiat, Mekong Program Officer at EJN. 

After the workshop, all journalists were invited to submit the story pitches. Of these,the 10 journalists with the strongest pitches were awarded story grants.  

They are:  

  • Ousa Rin (Cambodianess and Thmey Thmey, Cambodia) 
  • Sovann Sreypich (CamboJa News, Cambodia) 
  • Patithin Phetmeuangphuan (The Vientiane Times, Laos) 
  • Jonathan Meadley and Chono Lapeukou (The Laotian Times, Laos) 
  • Aung Myo Htut (DVB, Myanmar) 
  • Thet Naing Tun (VOA, Myanmar)  
  • Nay Aung (The Nation Voice, Myanmar) 
  • Kanokphorn Chanphloi (Prachatham, Thailand) 
  • Anh Thu Dinh (Tia Sang, Vietnam) 
  • Thanh Hue (Mekong Eye, Vietnam) 

In the coming months, they will produce in-depth stories on climate-water issues with the support of EJN mentors. Look out for their stories on the EJN website.  

As part of this project, Lower Mekong journalists had the opportunity to engage with water experts at COP28 and will do so again at the 10th World Water Forum held in Bali, Indonesia, this May. 

Banner image: 21 journalists from the Lower Mekong countries joined the workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on January 10-12 / Credit: EJN. 

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