By Mekong Partnership for the Environment
Chiang Khan, Loei province, Thailand, August 5, 2016
At the junction of the Loei and Mekong Rivers in Thailand, Journalists from around the Mekong region examined an example of the current mix of stresses on the environment and communities across the region. The workshop “Mekong Matters: Water Governance on the Mekong River” brought 15 journalists from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam together to examine how various water development projects are causing potentially irreversible changes to fisheries, farming, culture and water supply.
USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment facilitates the Mekong Matters Journalism Network, which partnered with Thai Society for Environmental Journalists (ThaiSEJ) for this event. The focus was on providing a rich and vivid field reporting experience for improving the reporting skills of the journalists. Journalism mentors, including the Mekong Eye’s editors and international trainers, guided groups of participants to investigate their story ideas through access to a balanced range of sources.
Hydropower projects are multiplying along the Mekong River, and Thailand has their own plans to divert water into parched areas of Northeastern Thailand. Locals in the Loei area are already noticing changes in water flows and fish populations, threatening their livelihoods and the delicate ecological balance of the area. Meanwhile these water projects are worsening the drought attacking Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and other areas. Combined with weather patterns, climate change and industry, journalist learned the welfare of the river and downstream communities under severe threat.
The journalists interviewed and learned from a Vietnamese scientist, an international ecological economist, Thai government officials including the governor of Loei and Royal Irrigation Department, civil society organizations, fisherfolk and other sources to understand how communities, companies and countries are wrestling with these difficult governance issues.
Mekong Matters is a network of regional journalists reporting on development and environmental issues, facilitated by Internews and its Earth Journalism Network (EJN).
Participants can access Mekong Matters and EJN resources including mentoring, story funds, workshops and news and data websites. Many stories developed from the workshop will be featured on The Mekong Eye.
This is an outreach announcement from the USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE), a key supporter of The Mekong Eye.
Lead photo: On site Q&A session with local CSO leader about the water gate project on Loei River, Credit: MPE