Drones for Humanitarian and Environmental Purposes



A 21 month action to consolidate existing knowledge on the use of drones (also known as UAVs and RPASs) in the humanitarian context. With partners, we will also test promote and disseminate the appropriate use and best practices among UN Clusters, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders. 

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Drones for Humanitarian and Environmental Purposes

Cargo Drones in Humanitarian Contexts Meeting Summary


With funding from DG ECHO, FSD is implementing an initiative on Drones in Humanitarian Action in collaboration with CartONG, Zoï Environment Network and the Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators)[1]. Discussions among the partners and participants led to a meeting focusing on cargo drone applications in humanitarian contexts co-organized and hosted by the University of Sheffield on 20-21 June 2016. The meeting brought together the principle stakeholders interested in the use of cargo drones for the delivery of essential humanitarian payloads. The purpose of this meeting was to advance the effective use of this emerging technology in humanitarian efforts actively, responsibly and effectively. This document summarizes the presentations and main discussion items of this meeting.

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UAV mission in Tajikistan in Support of Disaster Risk Reduction

Two villages in the Pamir Mountains and their watersheds of about 23km2 were mapped in resolutions of 15 and 10cm each using professional mapping UAVs. The imagery will be used to inform future and current remediation activities, disaster risk reduction training and risk maps in the communities.

Many villages in the Tajik Pamir Mountains are at risk for mudslides, which typically occur during the summer months when ice and snow melt is increased. One recent mudslide in Barsem village had released 1.5 million m3 of debris into the village, destroyed homes and had formed a natural dam in the river flowing through the valley. The build up of debris had completely stopped the water flow for 20 min, and caused a natural build-up of water. The lake that formed as a result of the water build up destroyed further homes and is threatening the power station upstream.



The second site, Darjomj village, is at risk of such potential mudslides, the last one having occurred some decades ago. In addition, the adjacent river frequently changes its course, potentially threatening usable land and buildings.

The imagery collected from both sites will be used by Focus Humanitarian Assistance and the national government to create educational risk maps and analysed for erosion patterns in the mountain areas above the villages and along the riverbeds.

The mission took place in the second half of July 2016 and involved 50 flights with 3 mapping UAVs as part of the Drones in Humanitarian Action Initiative funded by DG ECHO. A formal case study write up will be published in the following weeks.


Hiking up to the first launch point at 2,800 meters.

Hiking up to the first launch point at 2,800 meters.

Once on the plateau with the drones in the air, the main task was monitoring the flights on the screen.


Estudio de caso No. 2: Entrega – Usando drones para la entrega de cargas médicas en Papua Nueva Guinea

Epidemia | Crisis extendida | Entrega

Tipo de sistema: Matternet One Prototype, Multicopter Microdrone
Agencia implementadora: Médicos Sin Fronteras (Francia)
Agencia de pilotaje: Matternet
Fechas de despliegue: septiembre 2014 


El acceso limitado a los diagnósticos de salud debido a las severas limitaciones logísticas en Papua Nueva Guinea ha llevado a Médicos Sin Fronteras (MSF) a ser una de las primeras organizaciones humanitarias en probar el uso de drones de entrega. En 2014, los desafíos tecnológicos han restringido el uso en el campo de esta tecnología, pero las lecciones importantes relativas a la aceptabilidad y la prueba de concepto están preparando el escenario para mejoras en futuras misiones.
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Estudio de Caso Nº 1: Mapeo – Mapas de inundaciones para la Reducción del Riesgo de Desastres: Obtener imágenes de alta resolución para planificar y modelar los riesgos de inundación en Dar es-Salam.


Tipo de sistema: eBee Fixed Wing Mapping Microdrone
Agencia Implementadora: Banco Mundial y el equipo humanitario OpenStreetMap
Agencia de pilotaje: Drone Adventures
Fechas de despliegue: febrero y marzo 2015


Los drones proporcionan imágenes actualizadas de alta resolución que son esenciales para el desarrollo de mapas de exposición y para la modelación de riesgos de inundaciones en Dar es-Salaam. El éxito del proyecto ha dado lugar a nuevas aplicaciones y a la financiación del gobierno para mejorar la infraestructura en las zonas vulnerables identificadas por el proyecto.

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Cargo/Delivery Drones in Humanitarian Action – A First Meeting Summary

The 2-day meeting on delivery drones in humanitarian action just concluded in Sheffield, UK.

The purpose of this meeting was to bring together the principle stakeholders around the use of cargo drones for the delivery of essential humanitarian payloads in order to actively, responsibly and effectively advance the impactful use of this emerging technology in humanitarian efforts. Representatives from a number of humanitarian organizations, businesses, academia, and donors attended this meeting. This event was an opportunity to connect a variety of stakeholders to identify the most compelling use cases and current developments in the field.

Break-out discussion groups focused among others on issues such as humanitarian technical needs, regulatory challenges and realising systemic supply chain improvements.

The meeting was generously hosted by the University of Sheffield and co-organized by FSD and UAViators/WeRobotics as part of the Drones in Humanitarian Action Initiative funded by DG ECHO.

Presentations are linked to their respective agenda items below: (more…)

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Drones in Humanitarian Action is partially funded by DG ECHO. This website covers humanitarian aid activities implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.