Tanzania: The drone pilot whose maps are saving lives in Zanzibar
By Katie Prescott and Sarah Treanor
A lack of accurate maps is a big problem in parts of Africa: for disaster relief agencies, local authorities and people looking for safe places to build homes. Could cheap survey drones and local volunteers help plug the gaps?
Khadija Abdulla Ali is an unlikely drone pilot in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar.
Conservatively dressed and from a traditional Muslim background, she is a member of the Zanzibar Mapping Initiative, which since its inception in 2016 has become a poster-child for how African nations can approach the urgent geospatial challenges they face.
[The Minister for Lands, Muhammad Juma Muhammad,] believes maps can engineer social change.
"We want to get to the stage where we can plot our hospitals on the map, where we can issue building safety certificates, where we can tell people where the local schools are.
The last census in 2012 estimated the population to be 4.36 million - now it is nearly six million and rising.
Authorities can't keep pace. And as many of the areas where newcomers settle don't appear on a detailed map, officially, they don't exist. Nothing is known about them.
Consequently, they lack basic amenities, such as sewers and rubbish collection.