Project Last Mile

Drones successfully deliver contraceptives to women in rural Ghana

Women in the rural Ghana town of Bolgatanga. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Inspired by Amazon’s vision of unmanned delivery drones, public health specialists have created a project dubbed Dr. One, a scheme that uses drones to deliver contraceptives to women living in remote rural areas in Ghana. Dr. One, which is jointly funded bythe UNFPA and the Dutch government, has been so successful in its mission flying birth control, condoms, and other medical supplies to rural areas in Ghana over the past few months that the program is now set to expand into six other African countries. Governments in Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia and Mozambique have even expressed interest in taking over the program in their countries and paying for it themselves.

The delivery process is simple. Drone operators pack a drone with supplies and pilot it to rural areas difficult to access by car. Local health workers then meet the drone and pick up the supplies. Each flight costs only $15. “Delivery to the rural areas used to take two days,” says Kanyanta Sunkutu, a South African public health specialist. “It will now take 30 mins.” Sunkutu believes drones have the potential to revolutionize rural African life — from health, to education, to politics. “We’re going to use family planning as an entry,” he says, “and make it sustainable.”


Read the full story at Pulitzer Center.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the project and its backers, due to an error in the original report.

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