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UK Space Agency to Assist ASEAN Countries Monitor Environmental and Public Health Threats

Satellite imagery of Malaysia. Image courtesy of Tomnod.

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has announced a programme that will use Earth observation satellites and imagery data to assist members states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) deal with public health threats such as Dengue Fever, and environmental and resource management problems such as monitoring forest fires and surveillance for illegal fishing.

The programme, part of the UKSA’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), is designed to improve strategic early warning and management of environmental, public health, and resource threats and problems, and includes specific projects such as:

  • Satellite mapping of dry peat conditions – often a cause of forest fires – in the forests of Indonesia and Malaysia by measuring the water levels in peatlands, thereby taking preventative measures to mitigate the extremely harmful risk of fire;
  • Space-based environmental monitoring in Vietnam in order to prevent outbreaks of Dengue Fever, caused by changes and fluctuations in climate. In this project, satellite imagery supplied by the UKSA will be cross-referenced with climate forecasting and land usage data to help forecast possible outbreaks of the disease;
  • The third project provides space-based maritime domain awareness (MDA) to the Philippines for surveilling and monitoring for illegal fishing vessels in Filipino territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ);
  • These three new projects are in addition to an existing project that provides emergency satellite communications throughout the Philippines after extreme weather events such as Typhoons.

These UKSA projects in ASEAN countries will cost GBP11 million (U.S.$15.3 million) alone. The entire IPP budget is GBP38 million (U.S.$52.9 million), and includes projects in Colombia, Mongolia, and Peru as well as the ones in ASEAN member states.

“The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme will help developing countries tackle big issues like disaster relief and disease control, while showcasing the services and technology on offer from our leading space businesses,” said Sam Gyimah, MP, the UK Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

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