The empty airfield, while devoid of planes, feels full of life and excitement. The breeze keeps a tattered orange wind sock moving. And in the distance, the sounds of young people playing at a nearby school fills the air, reminding everyone why we're here.
On a hot and windy day in Kasungu, a drone operator prepares his flying machine for an important project. Joined by officers from the government’s Department of Agriculture and staff from three United Nations agencies, the operator steers the drone high into the clear blue sky. From its vantage point, the drone captures dozens of images of local crop fields.
Rural and semi-urban areas tend to be disadvantaged when compared to their urban counterparts. Poor sanitation, poor hygiene, school dropout rates, and poverty in general, are greater. A 2003 study, Urban-Rural Inequality in Living Standards in Africa, found that living standards in rural communities lag behind urban communities. The study found many more boys go to school than girls. Unfortunately, young girls are married off or remain at home to perform on household chores.
The day began as usual. I woke up at 6:30 am to get ready for work. An hour or so later, I arrived in Area 24 to join my colleagues, and try to stop the spread of cholera in the area.
Area 24 is a crowded township located on the boundary between Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, and the surrounding rural district.
Our task for the day was simple: to locate, photograph and mark on a Google map all the nearby sanitation and hygiene facilities including toilets, water points and dumpsites.
In the middle of a muddy field next to a reservoir in Kasungu District, a team of scientists are hard at work. Boxes of equipment lie scattered around a patch of dry ground, where Lancaster University’s Michelle Stanton programmes an automated drone flight into a laptop perched on a metal box. With a high-pitched whirr of rotor blades, the drone takes off and starts following the shoreline, taking photos as it goes.
By Michael Scheibenreif PhD, UNICEF Office of Innovation Kasungu Aerodrome © UNICEF Malawi/2017/Suresh Muthukrishinan In November, an aviation milestone was achieved in Malawi, as a team from Virginia Tech supervised a fully autonomous, 19 km simulated drug delivery flight in a drone designed and built by Malawian students. The aircraft, called EcoMalawi, was designed at … Continue reading Malawi: Low-cost drone built by students delivers medicine over 19 km distance
By Naomi Kalemba, UNICEF Malawi Ethel Pondelani a student from Malawi University of Science and Technology, UNICEF’s Michael Scheibenreif and Selina Kasambara at Kasungu Aerodrome © UNICEF Malawi/2017/Suresh Muthukrishinan In Malawi, the majority of girls shy away from mathematical and science subjects. Selina Kasambala is an exception. From a young age, she has always loved … Continue reading Students making drones that will benefit communities in Malawi