Is your NGO leveraging satellite imagery the right way?

The deployment of Flock 1d Doves from the International Space Station. How can NGOs leverage the power of satellites? Photo by: Planet Labs

For generations, nomadic pastoralists have relied on deep ecological knowledge to find good pasture and fresh water for their herds. But as areas such as the Afar region of Ethiopia come under new pressure — from population growth, land battles and prolonged drought — new approaches to livelihood planning are needed. Thousands of traditional pastoralists in Afar have seen livestock mortality cut in half since they began using digital maps overlaid with vegetation data to find grazing areas for their cattle.

Increasingly, NGOs such as Project Concern International, the California-based international development organization behind this Satellite Assisted Pastoral Resource Management effort, are relying on satellite imagery for the actionable information they need. But while this overhead view is a valued resource for so many global development professionals, there are plenty of cautionary tales. Devex spoke with a range of experts to learn how you can leverage the power of satellites, while avoiding costly mistakes along the way.

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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.