UNFPA Zimbabwe Explores Use Of Drones To Reach Women and Girls In Inaccessible Areas With Services

The United Nations Population Fund in Zimbabwe (UNFPA-Zimbabwe), says it will soon be rolling out Drone Technology to deliver services to women and girls in hard-to-reach areas.

By Michael Gwarisa

The move is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which recognize innovation as critical to accelerating progress towards global development aspirations as it ensures they deliver on their three transformative results to end preventable maternal death, end unmet need for family planning, and end violence gender-based violence (GBV) and all harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Speaking during a media briefing ahead of the Launch of the State of the World Population Report in Harare recently, Mr. Blessing Nyagumbo, the UNFPA Zimbabwe Programme Specialist for Adolescents and Youths said drone technology could be a game changer in terms of leaving no one behind with regards to access to GBV and  Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services.

In terms of the use of technology and in terms of addressing GBV and access to Sexual Reproductive Health Services, we have some efforts that have been made but we still need to do more. One of the interesting innovations we are envisaging is having some drone system put in place that can take some services especially to hard to reach areas with GBV or health services.

“This is some of the technology that we are trying to roll out in our context to ensure that those that have been left behind for various reasons, they can be reached technologically,” said Mr Nyagumbo.

He added that while they are still working on modalities to have the drones in place, they already have some innovative communication means of reaching out to the women and girls in isolated communities.

“We have got the support that we have tried to put in place in terms of rolling out some of the mobile applications that can give access to information that people can use when it comes to GBV, adolescent health, and other health issues.

“You also find that one challenge that is there in terms of leaving no one behind is that we still have other communities that do have access to technologies such as phones and computers that they can access information. We have tried to have programs on the radio so that those that can access the radio can have access to information.”

The UNFPA has an Innovation Fund which has investments under four innovation thematic priorities—digital health, SRH commodities, data, and innovative finance (figure below)—with an aim to strengthen UNFPA results in these areas and contribute to our corporate transformative goals.

The Innovation Fund supports small to medium innovative ventures which test, rapidly prototype, pilot, and transition to scale new solutions through the Innovation Pipeline, alongside big signature initiatives to create “global goods” for the development community writ large. UNFPA Innovation supports initiatives and projects aligned with its four thematic priorities and key actions.

Ms. Abigail Msemburi, the UNFPA Zimbabwe Advocacy, Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Coordinators said innovation was a priority in UNFPA.

“As UNFPA in UNFPA Global, we have identified some specific areas that we have said are accelerators that will help us to reach more people and not leave anyone behind. One of the key accelerators is innovation. Whatever we are doing moving forward is that we are always thinking outside the box. Are we doing it the usual way which used to give us the same results or are we looking at very interesting and active ways to reach the targeted communities,” said Musemburi.

At country level, UNFPA teams across the world are already testing novel approaches in digital health, big data scraping, and logistics management and information systems to challenges such as widespread family planning myths, poor access to reliable SRHR and family planning information, lack of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) for adolescents, and lack of accurate and timely data reporting on family planning commodities at last mile healthcare facilities.

Related posts