UNICEF has underlined its commitment to the use of drones within the humanitarian aid sector by funding innovative UAV start-ups.
The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking to make up to $100,000 (£760,000) worth of equity-free investments to provide early stage finance to for-profit technology start-ups that have the potential to benefit humanity through the use of drones.
UINCEF was involved in the creation of the test corridor, the world largest drone test area, spanning over 5000sqkm and allowing operations up to 400m above ground level. It is specifically dedicated to the humanitarian and development uses for drones and the only dedicated unmanned flight testing space in the continent of Africa.
The UNICEF Humanitarian Drone Testing Corridor in Malawi was established in partnership with the Government of Malawi in 2016. In June 2017, it was opened by Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango and UNICEF Malawi Representative Johannes Wedenig.
The corridor will facilitate testing in three main areas: imagery (generating and analysing aerial images for development and during humanitarian crises), connectivity (exploring the possibility for UAVs to extend Wi-Fi signals across difficult terrain) and transport (delivery of small low weight supplies such as emergency medical supplies).
All drone tests must be fully vetted by UNICEF and the Government of Malawi Civil Aviation Authority.
UNICEF’s mandate dictates that there should be no development for military or defence purposes. Companies must be vetted by the corporate screening process which will eliminate those with military ties.