EJN Project to Support Journalists to Report on Mekong Water Governance Through a Gender Lens Draws to a Close

Nguyễn Thị Nga is among many in An Giang Province who have been struggling with the decline in fish catch / Credit: Vân Nguyễn.
EJN Project to Support Journalists to Report on Mekong Water Governance Through a Gender Lens Draws to a Close

A 2017 study on gender and water governance in the Mekong region found that in general, women bear the brunt of poor water management, at the household and community-level, while men are overwhelmingly the decision-makers behind large-scale water management policies. EJN’s project, titled Reporting on Mekong Water Governance from a Gender and Social Inclusive Lens, was launched in May 2022 with support from Oxfam, to shed light on the environmental impacts of these inequitable socio-cultural practices and drive inclusive water governance in the Mekong region through journalism.  

After a successful three-day workshop and a round of story grants, aimed at strengthening women’s and marginalized peoples’ voices in media reports on water management in the Mekong River basin, the project now draws to a close. Here’s a quick recap:

Last September, 13 journalists from five Mekong countries (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia) traveled to Udonthani, Thailand as part of a training workshop intended to deepen their environmental reporting skills and encourage them to report on water governance issues from a gender-sensitive perspective.

Participants discussed story examples and ideas, and opportunities and challenges for reporting on water governance for local and global audiences with an eye to gender equality and social inclusion. They learned more about transboundary water governance issues and potential solutions to present-day challenges.

On a day trip to Nongkhai province, participating journalists had the opportunity to hear directly from local riverine communities how dams built along the Mekong were impacting their food security, livelihoods and culture, and in many instances, driving urban migration.

EJN also awarded 15 story grants to these journalists and two others, to produce high-quality and inclusive information on Mekong water governance. Grantees were provided mentorship and editorial support throughout the story production process. They were encouraged to center the experiences of local communities and marginalized people most severely impacted by infrastructure development and water mismanagement.  

Over several months, grantees produced 16 stories, which were published in English, Thai, Vietnamese in local and regional media outlets, and shared widely on social media. These stories combined, reached 26,000+ views by the end of April 2023. Here’s a selection:  

  • In Laos, Ekaphone Phouthonesy produced a cover story for Vientiane Times focused on how women in Laos cope with challenges.  
  • In Myanmar, Poe Phyu Zin exposed how gold mining destroy environment and local lives. 
  • In Thailand, Ploythida Ketkaew broadcast a video with English subtitles to explain the linkages between dams, river and ecosystem health and electricity.   
  • In Vietnam, Van Nguyen investigated how women are suffering from the disappearing catch in the Mekong delta.  
  • In Cambodia, Rachna Thim offered a solutions-focused story on how eco-tourism might help break ethnic minorities out of poverty.  

“I learned how environmental issues are being neglected in the Mekong region and how the societal power imbalance has caused local communities to become more vulnerable to environmental changes and natural disasters,” shared one workshop participant, who responded to EJN’s anonymous feedback survey.  

Another wrote: “Through this project, I had a chance to pitch story ideas, explore remote parts of Cambodia in pursuit of a story and build relationships with the locals, which I find meaningful. Moreover, I got to work with people outside Cambodia – a new experience for me.”  

EJN’s Juthamas Sukitjanont, project officer, noted the feedback received pointed to the project’s success.  “Journalists improved their reporting skills and expanded their networks in Mekong countries,” she said. “We seek to continue to support journalists in this region to cover environmental issues with a gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) at the core of their stories, instead of tacked on as an add-on.”  

Look out for project stories on EJN’s website.

Credit: Sutta, a fisherman from Sangkhom District, Nong Khai Province, Thailand / Credit: Wanna Taemthong.
Credit: Sutta, a fisherman from Sangkhom District, Nong Khai Province, Thailand / Credit: Wanna Taemthong. Read her story here.

Banner image: Nguyễn Thị Nga is among many in An Giang Province who have been struggling with the decline in fish catch / Credit: Vân Nguyễn.  

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