SERVIR, a joint initiative of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), works in partnership with leading regional organizations worldwide to help developing countries use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies for managing climate risks and land use. The SERVIR network of regional hubs currently covers the Eastern and Southern Africa regions, the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region, the Mekong region, and the West Africa region.

SERVIR-Eastern and Southern Africa (SERVIR-ESA) is implemented by the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). The all-encompassing goal of SERVIR-ESA is to improve environmental management and resilience to climate change by strengthening the capacity of governments and other key stakeholders to integrate earth observation information and geospatial technologies into development decision-making. Basing development decisions on better information in the Eastern & Southern Africa regions helps to achieve more resilient outcomes in the thematic areas noted below.

SERVIR-ESA Grants Program Objective:

The objective of the grants program is to expand SERVIR- ESA’s network of organizations in the region and to generate innovative ideas for applying earth observation data and geospatial methods/tools for development decision-making in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region. The anticipated outcome of the grant activities is to stimulate the innovative use of geospatial tools and information to translate science into sustainable policy and practice that addresses the development challenges posed by environmental and climate stresses.

The grants program is supported by the SERVIR and Climate Services Support Activity (SERVIR Support), a four-year project funded by USAID and implemented by Chemonics International Inc. based in Washington, DC. The overarching program goal of SERVIR Support is to improve USAID’s communication of SERVIR hub results and impacts, facilitate reliable access to SERVIR’s online data and tools, and provide technical assistance to hubs and in-region partners.

The grant program is managed by both the SERVIR-ESA and SERVIR Support teams, and applicants will be working with representatives from SERVIR-ESA based in Nairobi and SERVIR Support based in Washington, DC.

SERVIR plans to award grants to organizations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia to produce earth observation and GIS applications within four (4) thematic/technical areas (listed below), with the overall goal of supporting development decision-making. The applications can have a local, country-specific, or regional reach. Additionally, SERVIR highly encourages applicants to propose activities that involve working with vulnerable communities. SERVIR defines vulnerable communities as: groups of people with minimal ability to withstand adverse impacts from multiple stressors to which they are exposed e.g., weather variability and climate change impacts (floods, droughts, climate sensitive diseases). Please find below details regarding the 4 thematic/technical areas:

1. Land Use/Land Cover & Ecosystems

Tropical forest ecosystems in Africa continue to experience rapid changes leading to huge environmental impacts, contributing significantly to climate change and biodiversity loss. In East Africa, the key drivers of deforestation and degradation include demand for land for agricultural expansion (both small scale and large scale commercial ventures), livestock production, extraction of wood for energy (charcoal and firewood fuel) and logging for timber. It is estimated that farmlands in East Africa have increased by about 50% in recent decades. In arid and semi- arid areas of Eastern Africa, invasive species colonization, establishment, and spread is another concern because invasive species out-compete indigenous vegetation which can also negatively impact indigenous fauna and adversely affect livelihoods. In response to these issues, a number of international initiatives have been set up to combat anthropogenic forest loss. One such initiative, the REDD+ programme, features results-based payments to mainly tropical countries who implement activities to stem CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions arising from deforestation and forest degradation. Monitoring deforestation and forest degradation is central to assessing changes in carbon storage, biodiversity, and other ecological processes. To increase monitoring accuracy and transparency, spatially-explicit information on forest cover change at large scales must be derived from satellite images. With new satellite sensors, and better capacity to analyze satellite imagery, satellite mapping of forest cover continues to improve, and may be considered routine for estimating deforestation. Additionally, remote sensing is a cost-effective way to monitor changes in forest cover and degradation over large geographic areas. Key topics under this theme include: Land cover/land use change mapping, Ecosystem services and ecosystem management (including invasive species analyses and management), REDD+ decision support, Land use decision support, and Low emission development planning.

2. Weather & Climate

The impacts of climate change have the potential to damage and reverse developments achieved in improving the socio-economic well-being of many countries in Africa. A number of human-related factors compound the negative impacts of climate change, including but not limited to high population density, aging infrastructure, widespread poverty, and diseases. In many parts of Africa, the demand for food, water and livestock forage is expected to double within the next 30 years. In Eastern Africa, the populace is increasingly faced with extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods. These events have had severe negative impacts on multiple economic sectors across the sub region and tend to disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations. Evidence suggests that future climate change may lead to a change in the frequency or severity of such extreme weather events, potentially worsening these impacts. The development of evidence-based decision support tools that incorporate current and future vulnerability is important for communities, governments, and the private sector to plan for the impacts of weather variability and climate change in the region. Key topics under this theme include: weather monitoring and forecasting, climate modeling and scenario planning, climate services, air quality monitoring, and adaptation planning.

3. Water Resources & Hydro-climatic Disasters

Climate shocks and stresses, including droughts, floods, and erratic rainfall are a reality across much of Eastern and Southern Africa. Almost all countries in this region face water insecurity, including water scarcity, in-accessibility, and pollution. These problems are exacerbated by environmental degradation resulting from increased land use, urbanization, deforestation, poor agricultural practices, and the intensification of water abstraction. These practices can lead to reduced water retention periods, increased surface runoff, higher rates of soil loss, and changes to the natural hydrograph of streams and rivers. Relatedly, water-borne diseases are the main cause of morbidity in all the countries in the region, and poor sanitation compounds health problems in both urban and rural environments. Furthermore, as populations grow so does the potential for conflict over water use and access; such conflicts may be aggravated by climate change impacts on water resources. To facilitate proper planning and use of inadequate water resources, as well as mitigation of water-related disasters, African governments require reliable data and tools that provide timely information that is integrated into national systems for effective decision-making and response. Use of Earth observation data and geospatial technologies can help to bridge this gap. However, this will require dedicated efforts in building the capacity of government and private sector institutions to work with Earth observation data and geospatial technologies to derive tools and information necessary for water resource monitoring and management. Key topics under this theme include: water resources monitoring and forecasting, flood management and response, hazard monitoring and forecasting, fire monitoring, and water quality monitoring.

4. Agriculture & Food Security

Agriculture is the most important livelihood sector in Africa, contributing to over 50% of GDP. In sub-Saharan Africa, over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture renders the small holder farmer and agricultural decision-makers particularly vulnerable to climate variability. Food security issues continue to attract attention especially in the Greater Horn of Africa region where 75% of the land is classified as arid. The impacts of climate change and extreme weather patterns which cause floods and droughts are projected to affect food security in the region. Improving the accessibility, reliability, and use of information used for planning and decision-making can bolster food security. There is a need to prioritize development of robust agriculture information systems, up-to-date products to inform food security outlooks, and agricultural decision support systems. Earth observation data has the potential to be effectively applied in agricultural assessments and monitoring, and in development of tools and products at different spatial extents as an input to agricultural decision making processes. In addition, the development of effective communication systems closely linked to relevant national agencies working with agriculture related services (e.g., agricultural extension and advisory services) is vital to support the timely use of information in decision making at respective levels of government, community based organizations and farmers. Working in collaboration with other initiatives on agricultural monitoring may also present opportunities to advance food security objectives. Key topics under this theme include: Agricultural monitoring, drought management, crop productivity, information translation and dissemination, rangeland decision support, and aquaculture decision support.



SERVIR anticipates awarding up to the local currency equivalent of $250,000 USD through 8-10 awards with each individual grant award in the range of the local currency equivalent of $25,000 USD – $30,000 USD. However, the final amount will be dependent upon grant activities and final negotiation and may be lower or higher than that range. The implementation period of any grant award under this solicitation is expected to be no more than 9 months. The estimated start date of grants awarded under this solicitation is December 1, 2017. The type of grant will be determined during the negotiation process.



As described above, applications will be evaluated in a two-step evaluation process:

  • The first step is for applicants to submit a concept paper.
  • If the concept paper is accepted, you will be asked to submit a full application

All concept papers and full applications will be reviewed by an internal review panel comprised of SERVIR technical implementation and management staff. Concept papers will be evaluated against the criteria below. Merit review criteria for full applications will be shared with applicants whose concept papers are selected to move to the second stage of the evaluation process. The proposed project activities must be within the framework of the listed thematic/technical areas listed in Section IB above, and must align with the grants program’s overall objective described in Section IA.

 Merit Review Criteria Rating (Points)
 1. Technical Approach  70  
      a. Problem Statement (including Vulnerable Communities)    20
      b. Innovation    10
      c. Methodology    10
      d. Stakeholder Engagement    20
      e. Sustainability    10
 2. Past Performance  10  
 3. Project Team  20  
      a. Qualifications    10
      b. Gender Balance    10
 Overall Rating (out of 100 points)    100


These merit review criteria elements are described more fully below.

1a. Problem Statement. Issue or problems that the activity will address is/are clear and corresponds to a SERVIR thematic/technical area. Objectives of the activity are clear. Additionally, the extent to which the proposed activity includes a component focused on vulnerable communities, or represents a strong commitment to vulnerable communities as participants or beneficiaries. Clear description of how the activity uses Earth observation and other geospatial data to overcome the identified problem and improve development outcomes. (20 points)

1b. Innovation. Uniqueness of the activity area in terms of subject matter, technical approach, and/or applications developed are clearly stated and defined. (10 points)

1c. Methodology. The quality and feasibility of the application in terms of the viability of the proposed technical approach, i.e. the proposed technical approach can reasonably be expected to produce the intended outcomes in the time allotted. Outputs are realistic and align with overall objectives. It is expected that all datasets, scripts, models, in situ observations, and all related outputs of the project will be made freely available to the public at the end of the project execution. Clear information about the data dissemination plan is expected. (10 points)

1d. Stakeholder Engagement. Decision-making context for the geographic region clearly stated. Beneficiaries, partners, stakeholders to be engaged are detailed and strategic. Engagement activity or dissemination plan included. (20 points)

1e. Sustainability. The extent to which the funded activity will result in building and strengthening the capacity of the community and local organizations, and whether the activity itself is sustainable or will promote sustainability of the organization. (10 points)

2. Past Performance. Previous or ongoing experience implementing similar activities. This examines the organization’s experience, which is a critical factor in assessing the capacity of the organization to implement the activity. (10 points)

3a. Project Team Qualifications. Evidence of the capability of key personnel (through academic and project management qualifications and past experience) to undertake and accomplish the proposed activities. (10 points)

3b. Project Team Gender Balance. SERVIR will take into consideration your organization’s approach to gender-balance in the selection of staff proposed to work on your activity. (10 points)

Additionally, SERVIR will consider the maximum geographic breadth possible. SERVIR will also ensure environmental soundness and compliance in design and implementation as required by 22 CFR 216.


  • Applicants must be a registered organization formally constituted, recognized by, and in good standing with appropriate authorities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, and compliant with all applicable civil and fiscal regulations. Individuals are not eligible to receive grants under this solicitation. SERVIR encourages applications from potential new partners.
  • Each organization may only submit one (1) application under this RFA.
  • Non-Governmental Organizations, Private Companies, Private Institutions, and Private Universities may apply for cash or in-kind grants. Partner Government Entities, often including Government-Funded Institutions and Public Universities, are only eligible to apply for in-kind grantsIf you are unsure of your eligibility status, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with as many details regarding your organization as possible (funding sources, organizational chart, relationship with government members, etc).
  1. Cash grants involve the exchange of money between SERVIR and the grantee, to help them complete their proposed activity.
  2. In-kind grants involve SERVIR directly providing goods or technical assistance to the grantee, to help them complete their proposed activity. No funds will be transferred.
  • Faith-based and community groups will receive equal opportunity for funding in accordance with the mandated guidelines laid out in ADS 303.3.28 except for faith-based organizations whose objectives are for discriminatory and religious purposes, and whose main objective of the grant is of a religious nature.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate successful past performance in the production of earth observation and GIS applications related to SERVIR’s thematic/technical areas.
  • Applicants must display sound management in the form of financial, administrative, and technical policies and procedures and present a system of internal controls that safeguard assets; protect against fraud, waste, and abuse; and support the achievement of program goals and objectives. SERVIR will assess this capability prior to awarding a grant.

The following are required to be submitted as part of the application package, and can be found in Annex B:

  1. Certification of “Representation by Organization Regarding a Delinquent Tax Liability or a Felony Criminal Conviction (AAPD 14-03, August 2014)”
  2. Prohibition on Providing Federal Assistance to Entities that Require Certain Internal Confidentiality Agreements – Representation (May 2017)
  • Applicants must sign other required certifications prior to receiving a grant. The certifications will be provided to applicants selected for the full application stage.
  • For any grant award(s) resulting from this solicitation that is other than in-kind and equivalent to $25,000 USD or more, grantees will be required to provide a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number at the time of award. If the applicant already has a DUNS number it should be included in their application. Otherwise, applicants will be expected to get a DUNS number before an award is made. SERVIR will assist successful applicants with this process. DUNS numbers can be obtained online at
  • The project will work with the successful grantee to draft a marking and branding plan which will be annexed to the grant agreement.
  • Cost sharing is not required.

SERVIR grant funds may not be utilized for the following:

  • Construction or infrastructure activities of any kind.
  • Ceremonies, parties, celebrations, or “representation” expenses.
  • Purchases of restricted goods, such as: restricted agricultural commodities, motor vehicles including motorcycles, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, contraceptive products, used equipment; without the previous approval of SERVIR, or prohibited goods, prohibited goods under USAID regulations, including but not limited to the following: abortion equipment and services, luxury goods, etc.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Purchases of goods or services restricted or prohibited under the prevailing USAID source/nationality regulations.
  • Any purchase or activity, which has already been made.
  • Purchases or activities unnecessary to accomplish grant purposes as determined by SERVIR.
  • Prior obligations of and/or, debts, fines, and penalties imposed on the Grantee.
  • Creation of endowments.



  • All grants will be negotiated, denominated, and funded in the local currency of the applicant’s country: Ethiopian Birr, Kenyan Shilling, Rwandan Franc, Tanzanian Shilling, Ugandan Shilling, and Zambian Kwacha. All costs funded by the grant must be allowable, allocable and reasonable.
  • Issuance of this RFA and assistance with application development do not constitute an award or commitment on the part of SERVIR, nor does it commit SERVIR to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an application.
  • SERVIR reserves the right to accept or reject any or all applications received and reserves the right to ask further clarifications from the offerors. Applicants will be informed in writing (via email) of the decision made regarding their application.
  • Grant agreements will be awarded by and between Chemonics International, and payments and procurements will be administrated by Chemonics, based in Washington, DC. SERVIR-ESA, based in Nairobi, will lead technical oversight of the grants program and will review and approve all deliverables.

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  1. Section VII