Successful completion of SERVIR Regional Internship Program

Published: May 04 2009

From April 20th to May 1st 2009, the pilot internship program in Environmental Information Systems directed to officials of the Ministries of Environment of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic, as members of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America, and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR), was carried out in the Regional Training Center of CATHALAC.

InternsThis professional training was conducted under the project “Extension of SERVIR in the CAFTA-DR Countries for the Improved Environmental Monitoring and Informed Decision Making,” funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and executed by CATHALAC, in conjunction with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (NASA), and the Central American Environmental and Development Commission (CCAD).

The officials had the opportunity to expand their knowledge on the latest techniques for the development and maintenance of environmental information systems.  Participants also implemented what they have already learned about the daily operation of the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System (SERVIR) tools with practical exercises on the use of metadata portals, the dynamic models of sedimentation NSPECT, and the fire monitoring system HMS, among others.  “With this regional internship, the participants have significantly improved their capacities to make good use of SERVIR tools, applying them to the needs and realities of each country” said Africa Flores, Scientific Researcher of CATHALAC.

“I am pleased that the experts of the Central American countries and Dominican Republic have come to Panama for this internship in CATHALAC.  The participants of the region are learning and are implementing prime geospatial technologies from NASA.  This will lead to the improvement of the environmental management and response to disasters in the countries of the region, and it will fortify the scientific relations and exchanges throughout the Americas” explained Dan Irwin, Project Director for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States, NASA.

On the other hand, Yessenia Peñate, an official of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador (MARN), mentioned that it was interesting to be able to shed the “taboo” that SERVIR represented for her by learning that anyone, through the use of internet, could have free access to it and download the programs.  With this she could visualize all the potential of extending its use to students, centers, and educational entities. “In the time I have been in the training, I have been able to clarify some doubts and evaluate the advantages of the costs of the programs used in SERVIR, as an open source, of easy access and inexpensive for my country” added José Gildardo, official of the Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources of Guatemala.

CATHALAC is, in addition, the regional implementer of the Environmental Information System in the participating countries of the Free Trade Agreement between the Dominican Republic, Central America and the United States (CAFTA-DR), financed by the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States of America (EPA).

For more information, visit or contact Jennifer Croston, International Cooperation and Development Officer, e-mail:, telephone +507-317-3200, ext 245, fax + 507-3173299.

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