NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Monday launched SERVIR-Mekong, a joint project to strengthen regional environmental monitoring in five countries in the lower Mekong region of Southeast Asia.
One of three SERVIR hubs now operating in developing regions of the world, the center is housed at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok, Thailand, and joins a growing global community of scientists and decision-makers using publicly available data from space assets to address critical regional issues.
“Today, NASA demonstrates the human impact of its science mission here on Earth and our commitment to protecting the resources, the environment and most of all the millions of people living, working and raising new generations of pioneers and innovators across the region,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who took part in the facility’s official opening along with NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan.
Researchers draw on a continuous stream of space-based climate, weather and other Earth observation data from NASA and its partners, sharing timely information with governments and researchers in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and addressing issues such as water management, land use planning, disaster risk reduction and management of natural resources.
The SERVIR program helps governments and development stakeholders incorporate Earth observations and geospatial technologies into natural disaster response, improve food security, safeguard human health, and manage water and natural resources. Hubs in each region focus on issues and needs most critical to local populations.
“Under SERVIR-Mekong, we are tapping into the best available science and technology to help protect this region’s vital ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society,” said Beth Paige, director of USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia. “Already, Asian scientists, NASA scientists and others are beginning to develop tools to build resilience and contribute to tackling some of the region’s most pressing challenges.”
Partnering with NASA and USAID, as part of the SERVIR-Mekong consortium, are the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center; Deltares, headquartered in Delft, The Netherlands; the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden; and, the Spatial Informatics Group of Pleasanton, California. SERVIR global demand support is provided by Development Alternatives Incorporated, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.
SERVIR was developed in coordination with the Group on Earth Observations, an alliance of more than 90 nations and organizations collaborating to build a global Earth-observing system to benefit society’s needs. Named for a Spanish term meaning “to serve,” the program was initiated in 2005 by researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, which continues to house the SERVIR Coordination Office. NASA, USAID and their partners operate SERVIR hubs in Kathmandu, Nepal, serving the Hindu-Kush-Himalaya region, and in Nairobi, Kenya, serving Eastern and Southern Africa. The first SERVIR hub, launched in 2005 in Panama City, Panama, served the Mesoamerican region and the Dominican Republic.