Kenya Flying Labs scoops humanitarian award

Developing an aerial surveillance system to detect cholera cases. Using tethered drones to bring cellular connectivity to a refugee camp. Introducing drone-based solutions to the Kenyan agricultural industry – Kenya flying labs might have turned only two, but the sheer amount of humanitarian impact they have made so far deserves world attention.

A recognition of some sort. An award, maybe?

Fortunately, the world is indeed paying attention, and on Tuesday, Kenya Flying Labs were proud recipients of the UAS Humanitarian Team Award, which is presented by Women and Drones, an organisation dedicated to driving excellence in the drones and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry by advocating for female participation in the industry.

The award is given to companies and organisations with a primary focus of using drones for good in celebration of their commitment to changing humanity for the better. Qualifying organisations must have a culture of inclusiveness were women are engaged in key roles on the team and/or in leadership positions.

And at Kenya Flying Labs, the genes to help communities in need run deep; just in March this year, they received a grant from UK-based global innovation foundation Nesta which – in partnership with Kenya Red Cross – they used to develop a cholera surveillance system that combines aerial imagery and predictive analysis to predict outbreaks.

Earlier on in January, with the help of their parent organisation WeRobotics, Kenya Flying Labs partnered with Spooky Action is also working to launch a program to enhance cellular connectivity in one of the largest refugee camps in Africa using tethered drones. The drones infinitely hover about 120 metres above the camp and send out cellular connectivity, while connected to solar panels on the ground, to provide energy.

All this is besides their other humanitarian work in providing drone-based solutions in healthcare, precision agriculture and environmental conservation.

​“Africa is entering an exciting and rapidly expanding phase in drone application and every day I’m reminded how honoured I am to offer my skills as a young African woman to positively impact my community across various sectors,” says Anne Nderitu, Chief Operating Officer and fixed-wing drone pilot at Kenya Flying Labs. “This award is proof of or belief that women will be key in unlocking all drone potentials across my mother continent.”

The first fixed-wing drone pilot in Kenya, Anne has been with Kenya Flying Labs for two years, rising from a project engineer to COO; skills she honed thanks to her stint at the Africa Drone and Data Academy in Malawi.

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