Drone pilot Owen Cardew catches the drone after a flight in a flood-affected area of Lilongwe, Malawi. (UNICEF Malawi/2017/Andrew Brown)

UN Volunteer with UNICEF works with drones on emergency flood response in Malawi

Working in Malawi has always been exciting. As a student in conflict and development, I came to the country to conduct research on street vendors and organizational structures in the markets. Three years later, I find myself working with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, as part of UNICEF’s emergency flood response.

Malawi has limited road access to rural areas, and after a flash flood earth roads can turn to rivers, completely cutting off affected communities. Using drones, we fly over the affected area and see clearly what the impact has been on the ground, using this information to inform the disaster response.

The Disaster Coordinator, Blessings, called the crisis team together to discuss the assessment mission, the benefits of drones and how they can assist in coordinating the response.

Aerial photography and video can identify damage to buildings, bridges, crops and wells, giving us information about when families can return home and what help they will need.

This story is published as part of the campaign for International Volunteer Day 2017: Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere.