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16 Journalists Awarded Story Grants to Report on Natural Resource Governance Issues in the Mekong Region

people with illegal cut down logs on a river

People in the lower Mekong―comprising Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam ―are reliant on the region’s natural resources, from water to sand to timber to minerals.  

According to WWF, around 80% of the region’s 300 million people depend directly on the goods and services its ecosystems provide. 

Ensuring the sustainable use of these resources will be crucial for the economy and their livelihoods in the years to come. However, the ecosystem is being increasingly threatened by unregulated deforestation, illegal mining, infrastructure development and other activities.  

To support journalists to bring these threats to light and to amplify the solutions for sustainable management of natural resources, EJN has selected 16 journalists across the region for story grants through the Our Mekong, Our Say project. 

Here are some of the grantees*:   

  • Try Thaney, Cambodia (CamboJa News) 
  • Kann Vicheika, Cambodia (Voice of America Khmer) 
  • Yalirozy Teng, Cambodia (The Cambodianess) 
  • Leila Goldstein, Cambodia (CamboJa News) 
  • Kong Sokom, Cambodia (CAMBOHUN/SEAOHUN) 
  • Arnun Chonmahatrakool, Thailand (GreenNews) 
  • Anusorn Nimitpratoom, Thailand (Prachatai) 
  • Siraaksorn Jombaiyok, Thailand (The Momentum) 
  • Samanachan Buddhajak, Thailand (Prachatai) 
  • Nguyen Thi Thanh Lam, Vietnam (The Third Pole) 
  • Ekaphone Phouthonesy, Laos (Vientiane Times) 
  • Manyphone Vongphachanh, Laos (The Laotian Times) 

Before crafting their proposals for consideration, these journalists participated in EJN’s media workshop on natural resource governance, held in July in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they had the opportunity to deepen their understanding of transboundary natural resource management practices and the gaps in coverage they sought to address.  

Over the next three months, the grantees will produce stories on multiple natural resource issues in their home countries with guidance from experienced mentors. Their reports will explore land grabbing in the transboundary sugar industry, the community-led transition to renewable energy in Cambodia, the surge of illegal mining in Myanmar, the transboundary waste challenge in Thailand, and Indigenous-led efforts to conserve forests in Vietnam and Laos.  

"We are pleased to support the production of these in-depth reports, which will demonstrate the gravity of ongoing environmental challenges in the lower Mekong countries while also highlighting solutions for a sustainable path forward,” said Paritta Wangkiat, EJN Mekong Program Officer. “Supporting local journalists ensures that the under-reported issues that matter to local communities yet hardly reach the mainstream media receive the attention they urgently need.” 

Look out for their stories on the EJN website and Mekong Eye later this year.   

*Note: Due to political sensitivity in the region, EJN is unable to disclose the names of all 16 story grantees.  

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Banner image: Loading timber from mahogany trees on boats in Laos / Credit: Bernard Moizo for Institut de Recherche pour le Développement via Flickr.