These impressive maps are helping to save farm animals from 22,000 miles above ground.

Ever look for something — for what seems like forever — only to never find it?

Your car keys, your wallet, your soulmate (jk!). It's so frustrating!

GIF from "South Park."


Try walking 14 miles to locate water and coming back with nothing.

That's not an extreme example. It happens often to pastoralists in Africa.

Over 250 million pastoralists (people who raise and care for livestock as their primary economic source) try to find grazing lands for their animals every year. It's their job to care and tend to them, after all.

But over the past few years, they've found it extra difficult to find green pastures for their livestock. El Niño has been in full force in the region and the extreme drought that's resulted from it has created unbearable conditions.

Image via Jeffrey Brown/Project Concern International. All images used with permission.

How do you feed your animals if you can't find food or water around? You keep looking.

Image via Jeffrey Brown/Project Concern International.

And looking.

Image via Jeffrey Brown/Project Concern International.

And looking.

Millions of pastoralists trek miles and miles with their herds looking for a sign of green pastures.

In the past, they've typically found them through word of mouth, from lessons learned in the past, or by sending people to scout out the areas in advance. But as resources are drying out and areas have already been consumed, these methods are becoming increasingly less reliable and livestock are dying from it.

Image via Jeffrey Brown/Project Concern International.

Fortunately, one organization is changing that. With space.

Image via Project Concern International/YouTube.

The global development org Project Concern International (PCI) has created an impressive solution to this problem.

They've launched the Satellite-Assisted Pastoral Resource Management program (say that 20 times fast), or SAPARM for short. It has helped to save the lives of livestock and the livelihoods of pastoralists from 22,000 miles away.

Here's how it works:

First, the organization teamed up with a pastoralist community in Ethiopia to understand and map out what the community's traditional grazing areas have looked like.

Then, they tapped into a satellite situated 22,000 miles above North Africa (that was already there doing satellite things) to record real-time images of those same areas. They layered the community's information with the satellite's and were able to create digitized maps that show real-time locations of the greenest areas around.

A generated SAPARM map example. Image via Project Concern International.

The maps are refreshed every 10 days and printed out and distributed to pastoralists to give them a better view of what the grazing lands look like in their area.

It shows them where the best vegetation (i.e., grass) is so they save time and money and make more informed decisions on where and when to migrate.

Findings have shown that the livestock mortality in the community has dropped by 47% since people started using the satellite maps.

It also showed that 80% of pastoralists in the area are using the maps, and almost half of them say that the maps are now the single most important resource when it comes to planning for their herds. What a shift.

If you're thinking, "Wow, that's a great idea, PCI. Good job," you're not the only one. The SAPARM program has a lot of support from USAID and the World Food Programme (to name a couple) and has even caught the eye of Google, where they are working together to expand access to these maps in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and beyond.

Image via Jeffrey Brown/Project Concern International.

As parts of Africa struggle through extreme drought and the effects of climate change, it's encouraging to see solutions that can make such an immediate impact.

It doesn't take a satellite from 22,000 miles above to see that the world is going in the right direction on this one.

Heroes
True
Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared