Makoko is an informal settlement located on the coast of mainland Lagos and is often referred to as the Venice of Africa. A third of the community is built on stilts along the lagoon, with housing separated by canals, hence the nickname. It has a diverse and colorful history and was established when fishermen from nearby Togo and the Republic of Benin settled there about a century ago.
"Despite being ensconced between its more illustrious neighbors, Makoko is just a little blank spot on Google Maps." - The Guardian -
One of the main challenges in Makoko is that it was unmapped and appeared as a blank spot on google maps. The residents felt neglected and wanted to prove their existence and coordinate a joint effort to improve their living conditions (Urbanet, 2020).
Local organizations Code for Africa (CfA), a South Africa-based non-profit civic tech organization, started training residents on flying drones to map the community. Drones provide an unequal tool to engage and empower the young locals that are interested in tech and deliver high-resolution imagery that is geotagged and that can be put on a public map server (The Guardian, 2016)
In addition to the open geodata that the mapping provided, drone imagery can provide precious data. As Makoko lies along the coast and the houses are located within canals, it becomes very vulnerable to sea-level change. Precise mapping with drones provides elevation maps that can be used to quantify and mitigate sea-level rise risk. The data can also be a great tool to fight pandemics, locate where vector areas are, and intervene quickly.
Drones are also used in urban planning and development. There is no official population count in Makoko and no current statistic on the number of houses or buildings in this community. A precise count of all the structures could be performed using a drone and an AI model, and more accurate population estimates can be made to create a safer living environment for the residents.