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Drones excite Kasungu communities

A prospect that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, widely known as drones, can be used for humanitarian purposes has excited many communities in Kasungu.

The government of Malawi and Unicef in December announced the launch of an air corridor to test potential humanitarian use of drones, and Kasungu was chosen.

The corridor will provide a controlled platform for the private sector, universities and other partners to explore how drones can be used to help deliver services that will benefit communities.

The news has brought excitement among people in most communities in Kasungu as they feel the drones will help solve some of their day-to-day problems.

A health surveillance assistant (HAS) at Chathunthu in Chitanthamapiri, Noah Chipeta, said the drones will ease the burden of carrying medical supplies from health centres to village clinics.

“It is always a challenge for us, HASs, to distribute medical supplies to villages. For me, I usually cover 33 kilometres (km) during the dry season and 70 km in the rainy season just to get medical supplies at Gogode Health Centre, which is the farthest in my catchment area,” Chipeta said.

Are a Development Committee (ADC) Chairperson for Chilowamatambe, Yamikani Tembo, said the drones can come in handy when they want to send reports for urgent attention.

“We write and send reports to the district council. But the challenge is that we fail to submit them in time because of transport problems. I hope the drones will lessen this problem,” Tembo said.

Kaomba ADC Chairperson, Sara Chiwuya, said the drones have a chance of serving the community during disasters as they can be used to take images to determine the extent of damage.

“The drone can take images of a disaster area for preliminary assessment and this can be used to get urgent support for the victims,” Chiwuya said.

Unicef Communications Officer, Doreen Matonga, said the drones are a very important innovation as they can help communities in many ways, mainly in transportation.

“We thought of using the drones for transporting blood samples of children born from HIV mothers in remote areas to health facilities. The idea is that time taken to have these samples tested should be reduced,” Matonga said.

Testing of the drones in Kasungu will commence with an official launch on June 29 at Kasungu Air Field. The testing will be done for a year.

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