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.