Conditional trust: Community perceptions of drone use in malaria control in Zanzibar

Andy Hardy*, Mark Proctor, Cathryn MacCallum, Josh Shawe, Safia Abdalla, Rajab Ali, Salha Abdalla, Gregory Oakes, Laura Rosu, Eve Worrall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)
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Abstract

Background
The potential of drones to support public health interventions, such as malaria vector control, is beginning to be realised. Although permissions from civil aviation authorities are often needed for drone operations, the communities over which they fly tend to be ignored: How do affected communities perceive drones? Is drone deployment accepted by communities? How should communities be engaged?

Methods
An initiative in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania is using drones to map malarial mosqutio breeding sites for targeting larval source management interventions. A community engagement framework was developed, based on participatory research, across three communities where drones will be deployed, to map local perceptions of drone use. Costs associated with this exercise were collated.

Results
A total of 778 participants took part in the study spanning a range of community and stakeholder groups. Overall there was a high level of acceptance and trust in drone use for public health research purposes. Despite this level of trust for drone operations this support was conditional: There was a strong desire for pre-deployment information across all stakeholder groups and regular updates of this information to be given about drone activities, as well as consent from community level governance. The cost of the perception study and resulting engagement strategy was US$24,411.

Conclusions
Mapping and responding to community perceptions should be a pre-requisite for drone activity in all public health applications and requires funding. The findings made in this study were used to design a community engagement plan providing a simple but effective means of building and maintaining trust and acceptability. We recommend this an essential investment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101895
Number of pages9
JournalTechnology in Society
Volume68
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 04 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Community perceptions
  • Drones
  • Malaria
  • Public health
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Vector control

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