Drone technology to aid urban planning

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) popularly known as drones can help countries such as Malawi to plan cities better.

The small aircrafts can be flown to capture data in specific locations or sent to drop items.

Speaking in Zomba during the AfriCity status two-day drone technology training programme attended by various experts linked to urban planning, Steffen Vogt, a German trainer with svGeosolutions explained that urban data is crucial for social economic planning.

“It is very difficult to collect [urban] data from the ground but it is easier and better from above using drones. With rapid migration of people urban resources are not enough to accommodate those from rural areas. There is need, therefore, to plan for available natural resources on hill slopes, housing, power lines, access to water is paramount in order to know where humans are located,” he explained.

Adaptability, Food Security, Risk, and the Right to the City in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards Sustainable Livelihoods and Green Infrastructure (Africity) is a collaborative research, which explores the causes and effects of environmental change and resource use in Sub-Saharan African cities.

The initiative considers rapid social and economic transformation processes and their external and internal drivers, and assesses the barriers for potentials of social adaptability in the context of inequity, risk, and resourcefulness.

Patrick Likongwe, programme officer at the Leadership for Environment and Development (Lead) said urban planning is crucial for sustainable development.

He said: “We have lost city planning foresight. We let people build along river banks where trees are supposed to be. When heavy rains take their course, they wash [people and property] away, creating disasters that are not meant to be.”

He cited the scenes in Zomba and Lilongwe recently where floods caused damage to various infrastructure facilities.

Likongwe said that is why the drone technology training is crucial as it will help planners learn how to gather data using state-of-the-art drone technology.

Another participant John Msuya, Associate Professor at the Sokoine University in Tanzania speaking from a nutrition perspective observed that researchers need to understand and explain why things are happening the way they are seen, including poverty, lack of economic development, and the poor health and nutrition status.

“Appropriate solutions can only come with good understanding and planning, Msuya explained.

He said Africity looks into these processes in three cities in Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa.

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