The island nation of Sri Lanka is a biodiversity hotspot in the Indian Ocean. Yet, in recent decades, it has experienced ongoing environmental degradation. In 2021 alone, news stories told of a massive chemical spill in its near-shore waters, illegal fishing conflicts just off the coast of Jaffna and hundreds of incidents of deadly human-elephant conflict.
Emerging from nearly three decades of civil war, Sri Lanka has yet to fully assess the threats to its environment. Many concerns have gone either under-reported or overlooked, resulting in information and knowledge gaps that must be addressed.
"Known for its outstanding natural resources, rich biodiversity and diverse landscapes, Sri Lanka is unfortunately now facing severe environmental problems as a result of deforestation, pollution, overdevelopment and inadequate environmental governance. People in Sri Lanka need to know more about these problems, what cause them, how their lives would be affected, and most importantly what needs to be done to minimize the impacts. ,” said Kok Eng Amy Sim, Senior Asia Program Manager, EJN.
To do just that, EJN specifically targeted Sri Lankan journalists to support the production of investigative and/or in-depth environmental stories that expose threats posed by human activities and corruption; highlight the impacts of climate change on communities, especially marginalized and Indigenous groups; and amplify existing good practices that mitigate environmental destruction.
Here’s the list of journalists who received story grants:
- Ravichanchandrasarma Ramkumar, Virakesari newspaper
- Supun Lahiru Prakash Thambiliya Godage, Lanka Views
- Asela Kuruluwansha, Dinamina newspaper
- Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi, Ceylon News 24
- Jithendri Gomes, The Morning
- Rifthi Ali, Vidiyal
- Gayani Kamanthi Wickramasinghe, Daily Mirror
- Prasad Jayamanna, Mojo News
- Nadarajah Lohathayalan, Kalaikathir
- Jeeva Kumary Sathasivam, Liberty Publishers
- Priyatharshan Veerarajan, Express newspaper
- Dhanesh Wisumperuma, Vidusara
- Tharushi Weerasinghe, Sunday Times
- Kalavarshny Kanagaratnam, Globe Tamil
- Rubatheesan Sandranathan, Sunday Times
- Arul Karki, Namathumalayagam
Grantees will report on topics including illegal sand mining, the environmental damage wrought by mega-infrastructure projects such as dams and ports, the over-exploitation of ilmenite, the burgeoning sea cucumber trade, and the impacts of climate change-induced soil salinity on paddy cultivation, among others.
They will produce stories in English, Sinhala and Tamil with support from mentors at Internews Sri Lanka and EJN.
These grants were awarded as part of EJN’s Asia-Pacific project, carried out with generous support from Sida. Look out for further updates on our website and social media.
Banner image: Elephants at the Elephant Orphanage near Kandy take their daily swim / Credit: McKay Savage via Flickr.