An innovation to help fight against the outbreak of cholera in Malawi

By Jennifer M’meta, Form 4 student, Chinsapo Secondary School

Jennifer M’meta, Form 4 student, Chinsapo Secondary School © UNICEF/2018/Naomi Kalemba

UNICEF has introduced drones as one of the ways to address the ongoing cholera outbreak. The drones are used to map out affected locations and places most likely to be affected by cholera.

Recently, UNICEF collaborated with Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) to use drones to map out Chigwirizano Township in Lilongwe. The maps generated from the pictures taken by the drones were given to the communities for them to mark out areas that were not clean, and potential breeding places for bacteria that cause cholera.

Deputy Executive Director for UNICEF Mark Harwood, who was present during the mapping exercise, said: “Women and children are usually the most affected by sanitary diseases like cholera since they spend a lot of time at home. Saving children and women’s lives is our mandate as an organization. So we are using new ideas like the drones to help locate areas that are prone to cholera, and clean them out.”

UNICEF staff preparing a drone for takeoff to take aerial images of Chinsapo
 © UNICEF/2018/Lameck Luhanga

Using the maps, Chinsapo community came up with the following activities that they will do in order to improve sanitation: requesting the city council to fix broken toilets and taps at the market and schools; requesting the city assembly to bring cleaners to clean out all the rubbish that has piled up in the market; and requesting each household to have a toilet, waste bin or rubbish pit.

UNICEF is also carrying out behavior change activities in communities around Lilongwe to educate the people about cholera. Such activities have been carried out in Chigwirizano, Chinsapo and Likuni.

A community leader in Chinsapo pointing out places that need improved sanitation on a drone generated map
 @ UNICEF/2018/Lameck Luhanga

This story first appeared in The Malawi News newspaper/Community of February 24 – March 2 on page 9.

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