A recent event held by the Society for International Development in Washington, DC highlighted the SEVIR program, a joint venture of NASA and USAID. Started in 2004 the program provides essential geospatial and earth-based observations to developing countries in Central America, Africa and the Himalayas. This information is used to monitor environmental impacts and natural disaster damages.
Science experts help convert the raw data into a usable form that governments and non-governmental organizations can use. USAID provides the developmental expertise to assist in directing this information to useful topics and applicable to issues confronting developing nations. SERVIR provides information in the following areas of interest for developing nations: water, weather, biodiversity, climate, disasters, ecosystems, and air and health quality.
USAID also assists the host governments to build technological capacity. The program’s goal is for host governments to assume responsibility for the scientific data and application. In order to support this self-sustaining aspect, the program implementers work closely with the host nations.
NASA and USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2011 that expanded SERVIR’s programs to include food security, climate change, and environmental and energy management.
NASA and USAID also partner with the State Department and Nike on LAUNCH, a program encouraging technology innovation in the private and public sectors to help create a better world. In April the LAUNCH partners held a conference focusing on sustainable material development. Under this call for technological innovation, individuals or teams may submit project ideas. Those selected will participate in a creative immersion project with funding opportunities.
Previous recipients of LAUNCH support include projects for clean water, renewable energy, and biodegradable vaccination needles, and future projects supported by NASA and USAID feature the promotion of education in the sciences.
The SID Washington event focused on SERVIR’s projects in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region. The Himalayan regional node, launched in 2010, provides satellite imagery of rural, mountain areas previously unavailable. Countries served by the Himalayan regional node include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.