Supporting Media Engagement on Water-Climate Issues in Lower Mekong

women transplanting rice in a paddy field in Vietnam
Supporting Media Engagement on Water-Climate Issues in Lower Mekong
Southeast Asia

Issues of water and climate are so interlinked that the United Nations identifies climate change as “primarily a water crisis.”  Extreme weather events are making water more scarce, more unpredictable, more polluted or all three, impacting water security and community resilience in every region of the world.

The Lower Mekong River Basin, which spans the countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, is home to millions of residents impacted by water and climate issues. 

The river basin has a catchment area of 571,000 square kilometers and experiences some of the the worst impacts of climate change, from coastal erosion to droughts and floods. Saltwater intrusion threatens crops and freshwater sources, while economic activity and unsustainable projects, such as damming and sandmining, threaten homes and livelihoods, with those who rely on the region’s natural resources most affected.

In the face of these pressing problems, reliable and in-depth information is needed to improve transparency, address issues and hold accountable policymakers and corporations perpetuating unsustainable resource extraction and water pollution. Internews is pleased to announce a five-month project that supports journalists reporting on water and climate issues in the Lower Mekong region, with support from the Australian Water Partnership, an international cooperation initiative established by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which helps low- and middle-income countries in the Indo-Pacific region work towards the sustainable management of their water resources.

In early 2024, Internews’ Asia-Pacific team will lead a three-day in-person media workshop for 20 journalists from Lower Mekong countries, with priority given to youth, Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities. The workshop will help journalists better understand  the interdependencies of water and climate and how they relate to gender equality, disability and social inclusion. It will also include a field visit and activities to develop story ideas and reporting skills.

Participants from this workshop will be invited to pitch stories on water and climate issues, and successful applications will be awarded fellowship stipends to produce their stories.

Selected workshop participants will also attend the 10th World Water Forum in May 2024 in Bali. They will be joined by a mentor, who will provide on-site support and guidance to aid their coverage of water governance stories from the forum.

Ultimately, the project aims to equip journalists from Lower Mekong countries with the knowledge and skills to effectively monitor and report on water and climate interdependencies, while building public awareness of the importance of water management in helping communities adapt to climate change and directly mitigate emissions.

 


Banner image: Efforts to manage water scarcity and security must address saltwater intrusion and irrigation demands of agriculture in river basins. Pictured here are women transplanting rice in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam / Credit: Văn Long Bùi for Water Alternatives via Flickr.

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