Using low-cost drones to map malaria vector habitats

Andrew Hardy, Makame Makame, Donall Cross, Silas Majambare, Mwinyi Msellem

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58 Citations (SciVal)
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BackgroundThere is a growing awareness that if we are to achieve the ambitious goal of malaria elimination, we must compliment indoor-based vector control interventions (such as bednets and indoor spraying) with outdoor-based interventions such as larval source management (LSM). The effectiveness of LSM is limited by our capacity to identify and map mosquito aquatic habitats. This study provides a proof of concept for the use of a low-cost (< $1000) drone (DJI Phantom) for mapping water bodies in seven sites across Zanzibar including natural water bodies, irrigated and non-irrigated rice paddies, peri-urban and urban locations.

ResultsWith flying times of less than 30 min for each site, high-resolution (7 cm) georeferenced images were successfully generated for each of the seven sites, covering areas up to 30 ha. Water bodies were readily identifiable in the imagery, as well as ancillary information for planning LSM activities (access routes to water bodies by road and foot) and public health management (e.g. identification of drinking water sources, mapping individual households and the nature of their construction).
ConclusionThe drone-based surveys carried out in this study provide a low-cost and flexible solution to mapping water bodies for operational dissemination of LSM initiatives in mosquito vector-borne disease elimination campaigns. Generated orthomosaics can also be used to provide vital information for other public health planning activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalParasites & Vectors
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2017


  • Malaria
  • drones
  • Earth observation
  • malaria vector habitats
  • larval source management


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