The ecosystems of the Mekong region are on the verge of irreversible collapse due to the cumulative effects of climate change, hundreds of upstream dams and hydropower projects on the river, and the unsustainable extraction of natural resources.
This will affect around 70 million people who depend on the Mekong for food, livelihoods and cultural practices. The transboundary nature of these challenges calls for a more coordinated and intergovernmental approach to natural resource governance.
Internews’ Earth Journalism’s Network new one-year project, Our Mekong, Our Say (OMOS) aims to increase the transparency of natural resource policy and governance and citizen awareness by engaging journalists, content creators and citizen journalists who play a vital role in information delivery in the Lower Mekong countries ― Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
This project is funded by USAID Mekong For the Future, which is implemented by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
“Journalists and content creators are essential for well-functioning and transparent governance. They help bring the stories of the underrepresented into the spotlight and promote the inclusion of all groups in policies. Thus, they must receive our full support in their endeavor,” said Veerawit Tianchainan, Chief of Party of USAID Mekong for the Future, WWF Greater Mekong.
Through a series of webinars, training workshops, mobile journalism training, story grants and mentorship, journalists and communicators will be supported to produce evidence-based and engaging media stories and social media content on Mekong’s transboundary environmental challenges.
OMOS activities are intended to strengthen the capacity of journalists and communicators, who will learn how to access and analyze public data sets on topics such as foreign investments in large-scale infrastructure, renewable energy, hydropower, fish stocks, saltwater intrusion, mangrove forest degradation and more.
With the guidance of mentors, they will seek explanations from experts, accountability from government officials, and solutions for sustainable natural resource management from all levels of society.
“By supporting journalists and content creators, we hope to inform and mobilize the wider public on natural resource management, accelerating efforts to improve the sustainability of the Mekong region,“ said Paritta Wangkiat, the Mekong Project Officer of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.
The project will also strengthen networking among journalists and civil society organizations from Lower Mekong countries to facilitate transboundary information sharing and collaborative reporting on Mekong natural resource issues.
Banner image: Upstream dams such as the Xiaowan dam in Lancang (upper Mekong) River, China impact the lives and livelihoods of 70 million people in the Lower Mekong countries / Credit: Guillaume Lacombe for Cirad via Flickr.