Community engagement is absolutely central to the work of all Flying Labs across Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond. Proper community engagement goes well beyond “informing local communities”, so we tend to cringe when some use the two terms interchangeably. We also cringe when we hear stories of drone pilots from international organizations being chased out of villages. It should never come to this, which is why we’ve been working hard on developing a new online course specifically on how to carry out proper community engagement in drone projects. The purpose of this peer-reviewed course is to provide everyone with the knowledge they need to carry out their community engagement efforts in a responsible and ethical manner. No more excuses!
The new online course was developed and produced by Amrita Lal from WeRobotics and Yussuf Said Yussuf from Tanzania Flying Labs. Both Amrita and Yussuf have extensive first-hand experience in leading community engagement efforts themselves. They have used this wealth of knowledge to co-create this online course. What’s more, they also worked with numerous Flying Labs to collect their own lessons learned and best practices, which have been fully integrated into this online course. In sum, this is a truly unique and vital course, which is why all new Flying Labs will be required to complete this course when joining the Flying Labs nework. Truly successful drone projects are those preceded by excellent community engagement.
The video above provides a great overview of the course, which covers a range of key topics such as understanding community groups, different approaches to community engagement (including those used during COVID-19), common challenges to community engagement and how to overcome them, planning and content generation for community engagement, how to support community members living with disabilities and more. We warmly welcome you to join this new course! Feel free to share it far and wide so that all drone projects include a serious commitment to community engagement.