Belgium to assist UN with study on drones in disasters


The Belgian government is working with the United Nations to fund and study the use of drones in emergency situations such as earthquakes

In the midst of chaos

The federal government has agreed to work with the United Nations World Food Programme (WPF) to look into the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – better known as drones – in disaster situations, such as following earthquakes or tsunamis.

Earlier this month the UN and the federal government met in Brussels to bring together experts from all sectors to consider the use of UAVs. The UN said drones can be deployed at little or no risk to human safety to collect information and monitor operations in emergency situations.

“When disaster strikes, WFP and its humanitarian partners must respond as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin in a statement. “We are always looking to pioneer new practices and technologies so we can overcome the challenges we face in the midst of chaos. Strong partnerships in technology and innovation can foster better, faster and more co-ordinated responses.”

The Belgian development co-operation programme has contributed €500,000 to a one-year  pilot project for the use of drones in disaster response. “In less than a decade, the cost of responding to humanitarian crises worldwide has increased from €3 billion to more than €20 billion,” said federal minister for development co-operation Alexander De Croo. “To respond to these growing needs, we have to invest more in innovation.”

Only 1% of the humanitarian sector’s turnover goes to innovative solutions, De Croo continued. “We need to step up these efforts. That is why Belgium actively supports partners such as the WFP to foster innovation and explore new responses to humanitarian crises.”

Photo courtesy Inverse Innovation