DRONES are being used for the first time to combat malaria on the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania.
As part of the tests, the devices will spray a silicone-based liquid on rice paddies, where disease-carrying mosquitoes lay their eggs.
The substance spreads across the stagnant water and kills the larvae.
Bart Knols, lead researcher of the programme, said drone spraying was a relatively inexpensive way to stop mosquitoes from reproducing.
‘It gets to the bottom of the problem by targeting the breeding grounds,’ said Mr Knols, of the Dutch Malaria Foundation.
The Aquatain liquid gel being used has been tested internationally and is harmless to other organisms, non-toxic and biodegradable, he added.
In the initial test, in the Cheju area of southern Zanzibar, the drone sprayed paddies teeming with larvae, trapping them in the gel.
Zanzibar’s government is aiming to eliminate malaria on the east African archipelago by 2023.