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.