The partners inaugurated this state-of-the-art regional monitoring system, known as SERVIR-Himalaya, at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu, Nepal on Oct. 5. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and USAID’s Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade Michael Yates attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Nepal.
SERVIR features web-based access to satellite imagery, decision-support tools and interactive visualization capabilities, and puts previously inaccessible information into the hands of scientists, environmental managers, and decision-makers. The Earth observation information is used to address threats related to climate change, biodiversity, and extreme events such as flooding, forest fires, and storms.
An initial SERVIR hub for the Mesoamerican region was jointly developed in 2005 by researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and USAID development experts in Washington, DC and Central America. Its name comes from the Spanish word meaning “to serve.”
“USAID’s commitment with SERVIR and NASA is to create the linkage from space to village, to apply the best in science and technology to meet development challenges,” said Yates. “We are pleased to work with our partners in Nepal, and in other regions of the world, to build capacity to use satellite data and mapping technologies for making practical decisions that improve people’s lives.”
This NASA-USAID partnership combines NASA-derived technologies with USAID understanding of foreign assistance to improve livelihoods in the developing world to reduce poverty and help avoid conflict in order to bring people and their environment into harmony.
This year, USAID will invest $18 million in the global expansion of the SERVIR platform, establishing new hubs in the developing world as an integral part of its global climate change initiative.
“NASA’s science mission begins here on Earth, with greater awareness and understanding of our changing planet, and solutions for protecting our environment, resources and human lives,” Bolden said. “The SERVIR technology, and our partnership with various organizations and people around the globe, reflects NASA’s commitment to improving life on our home planet for all people.”
Since 2005, SERVIR has served the Mesoamerican region and the Dominican Republic from the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based in Panama. Building on this initial success, USAID and NASA added a second SERVIR hub in East Africa at the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development in Nairobi in 2008.
NASA and USAID are now expanding SERVIR to the Hindu-Kush – Himalaya region to address critical issues such as land cover change, air quality, glacial melt and adaptation to climate change. The agencies are working in partnership with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a regional knowledge development and learning center that serves member countries in the region, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
The countries in the Hindu-Kush-Himalaya area have unique needs related to their extreme mountain environments. The region is known as Earth’s “third pole,” because of its inaccessibility and the vast amount of water stored there in the form of ice and snow. Like the Polar Regions, this area is experiencing glacier melt due to a changing climate.
“I am very pleased that through the partnership with USAID and NASA on SERVIR-Himalaya, ICIMOD will be able to augment its capacity and its network of cooperative partners in the region to use Earth observation for societal benefits of the mountain communities,” said Basanta Shrestha, division head of the Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information System for ICIMOD.
SERVIR-Himalaya will integrate Earth science data from NASA satellites with geospatial information products from other government agencies. SERVIR was developed in coordination with the Group on Earth Observations, more than 80 nations working together to build a Global Earth Observing System of Systems to benefit the needs of society.
For more information about SERVIR, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/servir
For information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://nasa.gov