Published on The Water Blog

A bird’s eye view: supervising water infrastructure works with drones

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Aerial drones have zoomed their way into almost every aspect of the modern world, and the development sector is no exception. In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, drones have become an indispensable part of a major water project supported by the World Bank. The Bank is financing major infrastructure works to ensure that the city’s rapidly growing population is supplied with potable water.  Since the start of the Urban Water Supply Project, or PEMU, nearly two million Kinois have gained access to safe, clean drinking water.

With wide-ranging infrastructure works still taking place across the vast megacity, the project has deployed drones to plan interventions, supervise complex construction sites, and record progress. Simple supervision footage from Kinshasa’s Kikwit Road shows real-time progress during the construction of a main pipe providing water to around 800,000 people:

Drones have become much more cost-effective and easier to operate in recent years and are now able to record high-definition video at a very affordable cost (roughly $1,000). This technology represents an excellent opportunity for Bank teams, project implementation units, and supervisory consultants to improve planning and management, as well as to communicate progress to stakeholders and the public in a visually effective way. Drones can also be used in remote areas or FCV (fragility, conflict and violence) context where supervision missions or site visits are particularly difficult to organize (permits for filming with drones are needed in some countries and situations).

As the Bank continues to expand access to drinking water across Kinshasa, drone technology will remain an integral part of the project.


Pierre Francois-Xavier Boulenger

Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist

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