Tanzania Flying Labs and land regeneration in Dodoma

Touched by the prospects of a bleak future that await children and youths in the Kongwa community in Dodoma, central Tanzania, Tanzania Flying Labs (TFL) are forging ahead with efforts to help land regeneration in the area.

Working with the World Vision Tanzania non-profit, are using drone technology to keep tabs with five villages in Kongwa that are undergoing a process called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR).

It is a process that elicit the involvement of farmers in the practice of sustainable farming methods; in the assumption that sustainable farming strengthens ecosystems and is a practice that comes in harmony with climate resilient communities.

“We are working with World Vision Tanzania (WVT) to monitor FMNR efforts in 5 villages in the Kongwa District of Dodoma Region, the country’s capital,” TFL said in its latest report.

“Drones are used to create high-resolution maps in demonstration plots to monitor the regreening efforts in each village. The idea is to repeat this exercise every two years while training what WVT calls the “local cluster” to collect drone data and more importantly as always to visualise it for local analysis.”

The Tanzanian leg of WeRobotics’ Flying Labs network of drone and robotics technology entrepreneurs in the global south was moved to join the regreening efforts after one of their cross-country visits to a school in Kongwa unearthed a sad ending.

It is a mandate of Flying Labs the world over to inspire as many youths as they can through awareness campaigns; and on one of TFL’s campaigns, they briefly gave a drone’s remote control to a young girl, and gave her practical lessons on how to fly the machine.

Somebody took a very nice picture of the girl with her hands on the controls.

But when the TFL team returned to the school for follow up interviews with her and the school authorities, they were in for a surprise.

“We wanted to interview the girl … only to find out later she was no longer a student due to non-attendance. According to the principal, hunger and absentee parents lead many of the students to drop out of school and then face many new challenges.

“The parents are not negligent but are busy farming marginal land with the ever-present threat of losing their livelihoods due to climate change.”

When TFL came on board in 2021, World Vision Tanzania’s estimates had it that the country the area suffers from frequent droughts, land degradation and desertification leading to periodic food shortages throughout the year, with the proportion of households with year-round access to sufficient food for family’s needs standing at 60.9 percent and the proportion of children who feel that their community is a safe place stands at 45.5 percent.

TFL reckons the data its drones collect will be positive enough to inspire the community to persevere with efforts to re-green their land as the FMNR exercise continues.

“One promising technique it to use image classification to identify vegetation within the demonstration blocks and monitor changes over time. We used a photogrammetry and machine-learning software called Pix4Dmapper which introduced this technique in 2017, and has gotten better with time.

“Visually we can now compare how the demo plot in looks in 2023 to what it looked like in 2021.

“Another technique we are exploring is to generate vegetation indices like the Visible Atmospherically Resistant Index (VARI) which is designed to emphasize vegetation in the visible portion of the spectrum.

“We used a photogrammetry software called Pix4Dfields which can rapidly process drone data on-site even at full resolution.”

In TFL’s explanation, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) is a low-cost land restoration technique used to combat land degradation, where the re-growth of existing trees and shrubs is encouraged through pruning.

“The essence of FMNR is the ecological restoration of denuded and depleted farmland and soil. The focus is on increased land resource management with enhanced vegetation cover and improved natural resources base management in target communities for increased food production and productivity.

“Drone mapping will produce high-resolution imagery of these FMNR areas to monitor the program annually. The community has been trained to geo-tag points along the boundaries of these areas and we intend for them to use the same training to tag any coppicing tree or shrub which they protect from livestock, fire and competing vegetation.”


Leave a Comment


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password