Independent journalist Disha Shetty on Tuesday won the Asian Development Bank Institute’s prestigious Developing Asia Journalism Awards for her article about how the push towards scaling up solar energy in India was impacting the lives of women in rural Rajasthan.

The story was reported for The Fuller Project and co-published with Scroll.

“I am thrilled to be one of the winners of this year’s Developing Asia Journalism Awards,” said Shetty in a social media post on Tuesday. “It was an honour to also speak to the team at Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo on the takeaways from my reporting for policymakers.”

In her story published in May 2023, Shetty had highlighted that solar-powered refrigerators had solved the problem of expensive and unreliable electricity from the grid for women who had come together to form a dairy cooperative.

With a reliable electricity source, the women were able to double their income.

“Before, half our milk would go bad because of frequent power cuts,” the chairperson of a dairy had told Shetty. “Now, even if we have leftover milk, we can sell it the next day and because our wastage is down to almost zero, the profits for most of the women have doubled.”

Announcing the award winners in May, the Asian Development Bank Institute’s Dean Tetsushi Sonobe said that they were a timely reminder of the “important role of journalists working in Asia and the Pacific to highlight sustainable development and climate risks through the reality faced by people across the region”.

Apart from Shetty, Sri Lanka-based independent journalist Dimuthu Attanayake won the award for her article published in Context about the impact of drought and erratic rains on women in the island nation.

Journalist Sonam Lama Hyolmo won the award for her article published in Mongabay about indigenous Gurung farmers in central Nepal trying to revive the cultivation of a drought-resilient crop foxtail millet.

The Guardian journalist Hannah Ellis-Petersen and independent journalist Ahmer Khan received the award for their article about the rise in human trafficking in the Sundarbans against the backdrop of the climate crisis.

Abu Siddique, a contributing editor for Mongabay from Bangladesh, won the award for his article about some farmers from his country fighting back against monoculture by cultivating indigenous rice varieties.

The winners received a certificate and a USD 1,000 cash prize.

Read Shetty’s article here: In rural Rajasthan, solar energy powers refrigerators – and changes women’s lives