First CSE Media Fellowship for the South Asian Region 'Climate Change in South Asia: Indications, Impacts and Innovations for Survival'

December 25, 2008 – March 15, 2009

Climate change is for real. It is a truth, which is becoming increasingly difficult to deny or defy. Melting glaciers and increasing – and sometimes unexpected – floods, droughts, heat waves, cold waves, season changes, cloudbursts, storms and cyclones are only some of its indications. Climate change is playing havoc with ecosystems, lifestyles and livelihoods, even threatening the very survival of communities.

In January 2003, rainfall patterns altered suddenly in Lesotho, ushering in untimely frost and severe storms that destroyed standing crops. In the same year, an unprecedented pre-monsoon heat wave killed 1,400 in India, while the US was hit by 562 tornadoes – much higher than the previous peak of 399 in 1992. Melting of the Arctic sea ice reached its peak in the year 2007.

 International food security is being threatened as well. Studies done by the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute indicate that global rice yields could fall by a catastrophic 50 per cent in this century due to rising temperatures. 

And in all this, the poorer nations of the world, including those in South Asia, are really in the crosshairs. With neither the knowledge to leapfrog to cleaner technologies nor the money to put up with the consequences of climate change, these nations will bear the brunt. Their only escape would be to adapt and to innovate, to lessen the impacts.

To look at the truth of climate change in South Asian countries and travel, research and report on the impact of it the Centre for Science and Environment announced the First CSE Media Fellowship for the South Asian Region titled Climate Change in South Asia: Indications, Impacts and Innovations for Survival.

Selection procedure
The two-month fellowship invited applications from journalists, freelancers, photojournalists and television journalists based in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. About 68 applications accompanied by their resumes, samples of work and letter of support from their editors were received from across the region. Out of these 37 complete applications were shortlisted for selection by the jury.

A jury comprising of climate change experts and senior media professionals was constituted to select the fellows. The jury members were

  • Dr Navroz K Dubash, associate professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  • Mr Ambuj Sagar, postdoctoral fellow, Centre For Science And International Affairs at Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi
  • Sunil Jain, associate editor, Business Standard, New Delhi
  • Vipul Mudgal, senior editor, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Gargi Parsai, associate editor, The Hindu, New Delhi

The jury was also assisted by Mostafa Kamal Majumdar, editor of The New Nation, Bangladesh and Nalaka Gunawardene of Television Trust for the Environment, Sri Lanka.

The parameters for assessing the candidates included originality of ideas; grasp of issues covered; relevance of the issues covered; range of the issues covered; analytical skills; writing skills; and initiative. The jury was requested to finalise the selection of journalists for the fellowship, enrich proposed story ideas with fresh perspectives and suggest ways to make future fellowships more challenging and meaningful.

The jury selected the 10 most promising candidates for awarding the fellowship grant. The fellows were given from December 25, 2008 to March 15, 2009 for working on their subjects.

The fellowship is now complete and we present to you the fellows and the work done by them.

  The Fellows

Rafiqul Islam Azad
Chief Reporter, The New Nation
Dhaka, Bangladesh


Rafiqul has worked with numerous English and Bengali newspapers for the last 16 years writing on water, health, environment and development issues. For the fellowship he proposed to look at the threat to fisheries and fishworkers in coastal Bangladesh from climate change. He wanted to focus on the impact on fish industry and the millions of people employed in it. Another point he wanted to work on was the shrimp cultivation sector and how it is going to be affected by climate change.

With fisheries and shrimp farming having a large share in the country’s economy, Rafiqul was interested in studying the impact of climate change on the overall economy of Bangladesh.

The jury approved his proposal with a few suggestions on the story angles. Firstly, Rafiqul’s proposal offered immense potential for doing human interest stories. The jury suggested Rafiqul to find human interest stories. On the issue of shrimp farming the jury suggested him to look at the issue critically focusing on livelihood concerns as well as impact on environment. The jury also advised him to look at the financial and economic implications of climate change for fishing communities – what costs are fisherfolk incurring which can be attributed to changing climate.

Published stories



Sonam Tshering
Bhutan Broadcasting Service CorporationThimpu,

Sonam has three years of working experience with the Bhutan Broadcasting Services and has been active in varied activities on disaster management, health and environment issues. For the fellowship, Sonam proposed to make radio programmes in Dzongkha and English on glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) and the vulnerability of the Bhutanese population to it. He also wanted to look at the impact it will have and the mitigation measures adopted by different agencies. He also wanted to explore the role of different stakeholders in the mitigation process. For this he wanted to travel to the Luge Lake, areas in northern Bhutan, sources of the Mangde, Chamkhar and Kurichu rivers, vulnerable areas along major rivers, major hydro power projects and GLOF red zones. The jury approved his proposal without ay modifications.

Sonam did a series of five programmes which were broadcast on the Bhutan Broadcast Service in both English and Dzongkha.

Radio programmes

Samjhana Paudel
Reporter, Rainbow FM 91.8
Kathmandu, Nepal

Samjhana has been reporting on health and gender, social inclusion and democracy issues since last fourteen years through print and radio media. For the fellowship, Samjhana wanted to focus on deforestation and climate change in Nepal. She wanted to look at trends of deforestation in Nepal and its impact on people, livelihoods and the environment. Her major focus was how deforestation was exacerbating climate change in Nepal.

The jury approved Samjhana’s proposal. Samjhana did a series of five programmes the transcripts of which can be read below. You can also listen to the programmes.

Radio programmes
  • Hamro Awaaj, Hamro Ban, Nepal 91.8 FM, First programme (Script)
  • Hamro Awaaj, Hamro Ban, Nepal 91.8 FM, Second programme (Script)
  • Hamro Awaaj, Hamro Ban, Nepal 91.8 FM, Third programme (Script)
  • Hamro Awaaj, Hamro Ban, Nepal 91.8 FM, Fourth programme (Script)
  • Hamro Awaaj, Hamro Ban, Nepal 91.8 FM, Fifth programme (Script)



Zofeen T Ebrahim
Freelancer, Inter Press Service, Dawn
Karachi, Pakistan

Zofeen is a senior journalist who contributes regularly to different publications and agencies in Pakistan and South Asia like, The Dawn, The News, Newsline, Inter Press Services and Indo Asian News Service. She has been writing and working on social, environment, gender, children’s and disaster related issues. Zofeen proposed to write on degradation of the Indus delta eco-region and its impact on life exacerbated by climate change. She wanted to focus on indigenous communities, their culture, lifestyle and livelihoods affected by it, loss of biodiversity in the region and what the communities are doing for its conservation. The jury approved her proposal. Zofeen published three stories in Dawn, IPS and Jang.

Published stories


Rathindra Kuruwita
Deputy Features Editor, The Nation
Malwana, Sri Lanka

Rathindra has been reporting and writing on political, business, disaster, terror, and environment issues. He has worked with The Bottom Line paper previously. Rathindra wanted to look at climate change and its impact on paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka. His points of focus were proposals and steps taken by farmers, NGOs, and government agencies at a policy level as well as at the implementation level. How the impact on paddy will affect the farming community and its lifestyles? Has agriculture development been lop-sided in Sri Lanka with too much emphasis on paddy? How has it affected the country’s overall economy?

The jury approved his proposal without any modifications. Rathindra published four stories which can be seen below.

Published stories




Wasantha Kumar Ramanayake
Reporter, Daily News
Polgahawela, Sri Lanka

Wasantha covers the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka for Daily News. He also edits and writes for the environment pages of the newspaper and ahs attended numerous workshops on communication and media. For the fellowship, Wasantha gave two proposals. The first one was to report on the impact of climate change on various spheres in Sri Lanka. The impact of change in rainfall pattern on the Rambutan fruit and the impact of rise in temperatures on paddy cultivation and potato cultivation. How does the cement industry view global warming and climate change, as an opportunity or threat? A model has been proposed to network farmers, energy users, and sustainable technology providers to promote sustainable practices in agriculture and sustainable energy alternatives. How successful is the model providing solutions to global warming and climate change?

The second proposal looked at the impact of climate change on paddy cultivation. The drastic shifts in the two rainfall regimes due to global warming have affected the paddy cultivation. Wasantha wanted to record the experiences of the farming community. He also wanted to look at the impact of sea level rise and the increasing salinity on paddy farming. The jury approved the first proposal without modifications.

Published stories



Sudhir Mishra
Principal Correspondent, Hindustan
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Sudhir has been writing on health and development issues for the last 12 years. He has received the International Kaiser health fellowship on HIV AIDS. He has also done several stories on sex workers India, Canada, France, and Myanmar and Holland. Sudhir will be looking at the impact of climate change on mango crop in Malihabad and Saharanpur area of western Uttar Pradesh.

This is the key growing area of Dussehri mangoes. He will be assessing all parameters including climate change, pests and other conditions that have affected the crop during last five years. The declining yields and quality will also affect land and farmers livelihoods. The jury approved his proposal. Sudhir published six stories.


Published stories



Bharat Dogra
Freelancer, Mainstream Weekly
New Delhi

Bharat is a senior journalist with nearly 5,000 published stories and 200 books to his name. He has written extensively on environment, development and human rights issues. For the fellowship he proposed to travel to rural areas and write on local impacts of climate change – adverse impact on farming and related activities due to increasingly erratic weather conditions.

He wanted to focus on people working to find innovations to meet the challenges of climate change. He also wished to investigate possible cases where vested interests harming the environment might have used climate change as an excuse to draw attention away from their own activities. The jury approved his proposal. Bharat published six stories in different publications.

Published stories


CSE fellows document the impacts of Climate Change in South Asia

View the slide show

To see the work of the fellows click here