NASA Administrator launches SERVIR-Himalaya Programme with ICIMOD in Kathmandu

05 Oct 2010



The SERVIR-Himalaya system is being launched today, 5th October, by Mr. Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA Administrator, and Mr. Michael Yates, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID in Kathmandu. The launch is being held on the occasion of the international symposium, 'Benefiting from Earth Observation: Bridging the Data Gap for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region', which started on 4th October. SERVIR is an earth observation, monitoring, and visualisation system that integrates satellite and other geospatial data as a contribution to improved scientific knowledge to support decision-making by managers, researchers, students, and the general public. Initiated by NASA and USAID, SERVIR has been recognised by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), as an early achiever of the GEO vision.

The SERVIR programme is designed to build the capacity of countries to use earth observation and geospatial information technologies in different regions around the world. The improved scientific knowledge will benefit disaster management, biodiversity conservation, transboundary air pollution monitoring, snow and glacier monitoring, and mountain ecosystem management. In the context of achieving these common goals, USAID, NASA, and ICIMOD have joined hands to work together to establish SERVIR-Himalaya as the third regional SERVIR operational facility. SERVIR is already operating in Mesoamerica and East Africa, where it has proven its worth in several instances of international crises. For example, during the tropical storm Agatha, which hit Guatemala and Southern Mexico towards the end of May 2010, SERVIR’s sensor data helped identify mountain communities that had been hit by the heaviest rainfall. This knowledge allowed decision-makers to focus their rescue efforts on these remote areas.

In the following months SERVIR-Himalaya will gradually be adapted to the specific needs and priorities of the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region. In close interaction with governments and stakeholders from the region’s countries, SERVIR will fine tune its applications and customise them in order to provide decision support in priority areas such as cryosphere monitoring, disaster, land cover and transboundary air quality. In line with the SERVIR activities, ICIMOD took up rapid response mapping of the recent floods in Pakistan, which provided local teams in disaster management with daily updates of inundated areas. Such information helps in decisions for relief work and rehabilitation. These kinds of applications will be combined and systematically organised through the SERVIR-Himalaya system. In addition to being an outreach platform, SERVIR-Himalaya will also create a network of users through training and capacity building.

An inception workshop is being held on 7th October to initiate the process of consultation and dissemination. It will introduce about fifty stakeholders from ICIMOD’s member countries to the functioning and use of the system. Basanta Shrestha, Division Head of MENRIS, ICIMOD, summarised the potential of the SERVIR Himalaya Initiative, “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 cooperation partners in the Himalayan region to provide access to and use of earth observation for societal benefits of the mountain communities. SERVIR-Himalaya will be a key milestone in providing innovative solutions that integrate earth observation with geospatial tools for informed action and decision support in the areas of environmental and natural resources management in the region.”

For more information please contact:

Basanta Shrestha
Division Head
Mountain Environment and Natural Resources Information System (MENRIS)
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
Tel +977-1-5003222 Fax +977-1-5003277

Birendra Bajracharya
GIS Specialist
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
Tel +977-1-5003222 Fax +977-1-5003277