UNICEF and the Government of Kazakhstan Begin Test Flights for Emergency Response

Search and Rescue Drones

UNICEF Kazakhstan
Drones flyies up in Kazakhstan sky during winter
M. Muldasheva
23 January 2019

22 January 2019, Astana, Kazakhstan: This week, UNICEF and the Government of Kazakhstan conducted the first round of test flights of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, also known as drones) for emergency preparedness and response in the South of Kazakhstan.

A large country with diverse terrain, Kazakhstan is vulnerable to nearly every type of natural disaster: floods, extreme temperature events, earthquakes, landslides, mudslides, storms and wildfires. Every year, close to 4,000 emergencies cause 3,000-5,000 injuries and claim several dozen lives. The changing climate also affects the rise of the weather-related disasters.

This first round of testing focused on using drones in search and rescue operations, laying the groundwork for future testing of other functional areas such as mapping and damage assessment in cases of mudslides, avalanches, and forest wildfires. Drones can also provide quick life-saving connectivity (wi-fi, phone) in affected areas.

various drones on ground being prepared to fly
M. Muldasheva
Locally produced drones are waiting to be tested as part of search and rescue training in the mountains of Kazakhstan
“Today, we saw the high potential of using UAS in responding to emergencies and finding lost people. With the help of new technologies, we can be more efficient, proactive and quick. This means saving lives, locating hazards before they become disasters, all the while reducing costs and even cutting down our carbon footprint" said Ardak Zhanguzhinov, head of section at the Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Team looks closely at the drone on the ground
M. Muldasheva
Students from UNICEF Innovations Lab study UAV during drone testing for search and rescue operations in Kazakhstan

Children and young people make up nearly half of the population of Kazakhstan. They are especially vulnerable in emergencies -- necessitating a tailored response, as well as risk assessment and response planning. Since 2009, UNICEF in Kazakhstan has supported government efforts to advance disaster resilience of children through improved policies, education curricula and standards, and enhancing the knowledge of teachers and students.

Kazakhstan’s drone testing corridors are the latest addition to UNICEF’s global efforts in using UAS in humanitarian response. UNICEF has helped set up drone corridors in two other countries, with Vanuatu recently completing the world’s first drone delivery of vaccines.

UNICEF Banner on site at Kazakhstan drone corridor
M. Muldasheva
Field camp of the training search and rescue operation at the foothills of Tien Shan range in Kazakhstan.
“UNICEF has always placed special emphasis on innovation in everything we do, including in humanitarian action for children. Today’s technologies offer many opportunities to make this world a better and safer place for every child”, said UNICEF regional emergency and disaster risk reduction specialist Tatiana Ten.

All UAS/drones projects tested in the corridors will abide by the UNICEF innovation principles – meaning open source, open data, shareable, designed for scale, and others.

Companies and individuals can register their interest in using the testing corridors by completing an online form here: https://bit.ly/2S5LKpD


Notes to editors:

The announcement of Kazakhstan drone corridor + Government collaboration here 


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org/kazakhstan.

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For more information contact:

  • Zarina Nurmukhambetova, UNICEF Kazakhstan Communication Specialist, +7 777 734 30 19; эл. пошта: znurmukhambetova@unicef.org
  • Assel Saduova, UNICEF Kazakhstan Communication Associate, +7 701 640 71 87, asaduova@unicef.org
  • Anna Stativkina, UNICEF Kazakhstan Program Officer, Resilience, +7 702 555 9110, astativkina@unicef.org
  • Bolat Duskinov, UNICEF Kazakhstan Consultant on UAVs and Innovations, +7 777 313 1180, bduskinov@unicef.or