Kazakhstan and China: exchange of experience on using drones to reduce disaster risk in the best interest of children

UAVs may become an effective element of emergency management and disaster risk reduction

16 June 2020
UNICEF Kazakhstan

NUR-SULTAN/BEIJING, 12 JUNE 2020 – The Governments of Kazakhstan and China exchanged experiences and shared best practices in emergency management and disaster risk reduction systems at a virtual session, facilitated by UNICEF. In cooperation with its governmental partners: Committee of Emergency Situations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction (CESDRR), and National Disaster Reduction Center of China under the Ministry of Emergency Management, UNICEF organised the virtual session to discuss outcomes and lessons learned of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in emergencies.

In Kazakhstan, UNICEF works with its governmental partners to enhance children’s resilience to disasters and emergencies. In 2018, the UNICEF Kazakhstan Country Office in coordination with the Emergency Сommittee of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, the Civil Aviation Committee of the Ministry of Investments and Development, established two drone “testing corridors” in the Akmola and Almaty oblasts. “Testing corridors” are special flying zones in which the application of UAVs in emergency settings can be tested. In Kazakhstan, four potential types of involvement of drones in emergency operations were tested:

- search and rescue operations;

- identification of fires in forest and mountainous areas;

- area mapping for early identification of flood threats, avalanches, mudflows, and landslides;

- provision of temporary mobile communications over an area affected by an emergency.

In 2019, UNICEF together with CESDRR conducted three rounds of drone testing flights within these “testing corridors” with participation of Kazakhstani companies producing and operating drones. The tests gave emergency specialists from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan the opportunity to acquire skills on the operation of drones and post-flight data processing. Currently, the Emergency Committee under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and UNICEF are starting the second stage of their joint initiative on strengthening the use of drones in emergencies.

In China, with intensification of the global climate change and increase in the risks of natural disasters, Chinese Government has paid more attention to pre-disaster prevention and integrated disaster mitigation, shifting from reducing disaster loss to reducing disaster risks. Pre-deployed national wide system of UAVs is used for disaster monitoring, post-disaster damage assessment and communication during disasters.      

“Widening its support to the Government of Kazakhstan, the UNICEF Kazakhstan Country Office is committed to continuing this joint initiative for using UAVs in emergency management, in particular exploring cooperation with local private companies. The Chinese Government’s experience in public private partnership in emergency preparedness and response is particularly informative for the continuation of the project in Kazakhstan,” said Veronika Vashchenko, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Kazakhstan.

“Both China and Kazakhstan – like many countries around the world – are not spared from the occurrence of natural disasters, and we know that these disasters can have impacts on economic and social development. I sincerely hope today’s exchange will allow us to further explore opportunities for in-depth cooperation on emergency management and disaster risk reduction in the best interest of children,” noted Dr. Alison Jenkins, Senior Advisor for South-South Cooperation and Partnerships, UNICEF China.

Capacity building exercises for Kazakhstan and Central Asian emergency officers on how to use the UAVs for data collection and analysis will also be part of the second phase of the UNICEF-supportive initiative.

“The work on UAVs is currently one of the most innovative and promising priority areas for CESDRR. We understand that it is rather difficult to fly helicopters in terms of time, costs and efforts needed. Availability of UAVs allow us to assess damage and monitor the post-disaster situation in a real-time. With UNICEF’s support we prioritise post-flight data processing and analysis,” emphasised Marat Khassenov, Deputy Director of CESDRR.

Since 2017, UNICEF at the global level has been exploring the prospects of the use of UAVs to help the most vulnerable children and their families and improve their living conditions, including prevention of life-threatening situations and acquisition of essential everyday skills.

Media contacts

Chulho Hyun
UNICEF Regional Office Europe and Central Asia
Tel: +41 22 909 52 86


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