Jack Dangermond, president of Esri during the Esri User Conference. Photo by: Esri

When pregnant and nursing women walk five to six hours for food distribution, the journey to the site and back can be such a drain on their energy that it defeats the purpose of those nutrients. In Madagascar, the humanitarian organization Catholic Relief Services is using spatial systems for topographical analyses to reduce travel times for these women, by determining which distribution sites capture the most beneficiaries within the smallest radius.

Geographic information systems, or GIS, merge cartography, spatial analysis, and database technology. This software can help organizations in the global development and humanitarian response sector with needs ranging from program site selection to monitoring and evaluation, and data management. For example, NGOs can combine historical country program data with existing data on the location of vulnerable populations to target those areas that are most in need.

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About the author

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    Catherine Cheney

    Catherine Cheney is a Senior Reporter for Devex. She covers the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology, innovation, and philanthropy in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And she frequently represents Devex as a speaker and moderator. Prior to joining Devex, Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University, worked as a web producer for POLITICO and reporter for World Politics Review, and helped to launch NationSwell. Catherine has reported domestically and internationally for outlets including The Atlantic and the Washington Post. Outside of her own reporting, Catherine also supports other journalists to cover what is working, through her work with the Solutions Journalism Network.