New UK space projects to boost global sustainable development receive £3.4m cash boost

South East | Technology

Today, on World Humanitarian Day, the UK Space Agency has announced £3.4m of new funding for 10 leading-edge projects that back UK academics using space to tackle global development problems – from the spread of malaria to human trafficking and forced labour.

In 2018, there were an estimated 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths from malaria alone. Using satellite, air-borne and ground-based sensing technology, academics at The Open University will detect where mosquitoes are most likely to breed and support efforts to tackle this deadly disease at its source. Once identified, ‘sprayer drones’ will release biocontrol agents that will kill mosquito larvae without affecting other species as part of the DETECT project.

Uganda is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation. A project backed by the cash injection announced today will see UK academics at the University of Nottingham apply Earth observation technology from satellites to Uganda’s anti-human trafficking and forced labour efforts.

These projects will develop solutions to global challenges that will open up new opportunities for UK space expertise to help countries overseas to deal with myriad problems. Among the others being backed are space-based solutions that will help protect wildlife habitats in Kenya and another that will improve resilience to flooding in Bangladesh, which is suffering the most prolonged monsoon rains in decades.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “From flooding to climate change, around the world people continue to be affected by crises that are having a profound impact on their countries’ economies and their lives. These 10 new projects have the potential to provide solutions to the world’s biggest development problems by using the latest and most high-tech space technologies such as satellites, and help improve millions of people’s lives in developing countries.”

The £3.4m funding comes from the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), which is designed to use UK space expertise in satellite technology and data services to deliver ground-breaking solutions to real-world problems across the globe. Projects aim to help developing countries while building effective partnerships that can lead to growth opportunities for the UK space sector.

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