MONGABAY REPORTING NETWORK: MEKONG DAMS

Stretching more than 4,000 kilometers from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea, the Mekong is one of the world’s great river systems. The river is home to the one of the world’s richest assemblies of aquatic biodiversity, while its basin supports thousands of species of plants, birds, mammals and reptiles. It is also the lifeblood of the region’s human communities. Some 60 million people in the Lower Mekong region rely on the river as a source of livelihood, transport, food and water.

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In the last decade, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand have proposed 11 hydroelectric dams along the mainstream of the Mekong. Some, such as the Xayaburi Dam in northern Laos, are already way underway. Further upstream, China has already built seven megadams with another 20 under construction or planned. Proponents of the projects argue that building dams will reduce the region’s dependence on carbon-based energy and stimulate economic growth, while scientists and activists warn that damming the Mekong will have devastating effects on the river’s ecology and on the livelihood of people living along the river’s banks.

Mongabay welcomes story pitches on the environmental and social impacts of dams along the Mekong and neighboring river systems. Priority countries for coverage are Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Stories from Myanmar and southern China will also be considered.

We are looking for stories that explore the effects of dams on wildlife, ecosystem functions and the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers — what effects are already being felt from existing dams on the Mekong, and what might happen if the proposed dams on the lower Mekong are constructed?

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Stories on the political and economic factors underlying dam construction are also welcome. How has rising demand for electricity in China, Thailand and Vietnam fueled the construction of dams? Have the countries and companies involved in dam construction followed internal regulations or international best practices before and during building? Who benefits from dams being built and what role does corruption play in decision making? Why have alternative projects, like the Thako Water Diversion Project, fallen out of favor?

Opinion pieces will not be considered.

Mongabay will negotiate all fees and contracts on a per-story basis. Completed stories will be paid per word, depending on the journalist’s experience and the complexity of the reporting, and will be published on Mongabay.com under an open Creative Commons license that allows for sharing and re-posting. We will also offer a small payment to journalists who proactively get their stories republished in major third-party print media outlets and on sites that draw more than 100,000 unique visitors per month. Small sums are available to help defray travel costs.

Please submit your Mekong dam pitch here, along with your journalism resume. Pitches should be roughly 500 words in length. They should clearly explain the specific subject you would like to write about and your approach to covering it, describe a few potential sources, and include whether travel funding is necessary to complete the project (travel funds are very limited). As this is an ongoing pitch solicitation, there is no deadline for submissions.

Other reporting opportunities:

 

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