The Vanuatu Public Works Department (PWD) has increased its capability to design, construct and maintain resilient roads. This has been achieved through the integration of climate information, physical environment/hazard data and accurate digital elevation data (topographic and bathymetry). 

This month, PWD attained a new drone capability that is breaking ground in the Pacific region. 

“The new DJI Matrice 300 RTK Drone Aircraft has the capability to collect LiDAR data, in addition to the capture of high-definition images and videos,” said Ms Moirah Matou, VanKIRAP Project Manager, VMGD

LiDAR is Airborne Light Detection and Ranging, is an optical remote sensing technology that provides extremely accurate, high resolution elevation data. It is commonly used to make high-resolution maps with applications in surveying, atmospheric science, climate information services, geography, and aerial climate and disaster assessments to name a few. 

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and VMGD through the Vanuatu Climate Information Services for Resilient Development (VanKIRAP) project facilitated the procurement of the DJI Matrice 300 RTK Drone Aircraft. It is for aerial surveying purposes to capture imagery data with coordinates and post-processing to create geo-referenced orthomosaics, digital elevation models (DEMs), or 3D models of the VanKIRAP project locations. 

“The maps with LiDAR and climate information combined with engineering models are drawn to understand better the landscapes and suitable engineering approaches to apply for Vanuatu roads so the infrastructure is resilient,” said Mr Raviky Talae, Infrastructure Sector Coordinator, PWD. 

“This new capability will save the department millions of Vatu every year, outsourcing this capability to external service providers. The drone and the integration of climate information allow us to build more roads that are climate ready and climate proof”.

Plans are in place to expand LIDAR coverage to new areas in Vanuatu and to complement the topographic and bathymetric LIDAR survey for Vanuatu developed by the PACCSAP programme in 2012/13.   

Other essential use of the new state-of-the-art-drone is for undertaking post disaster damage assessments. 

“If a cyclone makes landfall in Vanuatu today, we can deploy the drone; conduct detailed aerial surveys and produce damage assessments right away. We do not have to wait for outside assistance like in the past. One of the lessons learnt after cyclone Harold recently, was for Vanuatu to be self-reliant and building its own capacity to meet its own priorities. Mapping challenges in Vanuatu are in the past.”

A one-week workshop from 3 -7 October 2022 co-hosted by SPREP, VMGD and Ferntech was focussed on representatives from the PWD, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD) and Department of Water Resources (DoWR). Six participants received specialised training on drone operation, mapping, data collection and imagery capture. 

Field demonstrations and trials were undertaken at the Kawenu Field, Port Vila. 

Funding for the drone aircraft and the training workshop was provided through a partnership between the Green Climate Fund (GCF), SPREP and VMGD through the Vanuatu Climate Information Services for resilient development (Van CISRDP) project or VanKIRAP.

VanKIRAP, as the project is known by its Bislama acronym, is making climate information better, more relevant, and more accessible for people in Vanuatu. The Project supports Vanuatu’s resilient development by increasing the ability of decision-makers, communities and individuals to plan for and respond to the impacts of climate variability and change, using climate information services (CIS).

For more information, please contact Mr Sunny Kamuta Seuseu, Acting Manager, Vanuatu CISRDP on email [email protected] or telephone +678 5551113.