Drone-based Vaccine Deliveries in Vanuatu

Present your drone technology as a new mode of transport for vaccine delivery in the Pacific. 

Aerial view of Cook’s Bay. Erromango Island. Vanuatu. Picture taken by UNICEF. August 2017.

Request for Tenders (RFT). Physical Services: 


The Republic of Vanuatu is a Y-shaped archipelago consisting of 83 relatively small islands of volcanic origin that runs 1600 kilometres north to south. 65 islands in the archipelago are inhabited and only around 20 of which have functional airfields and established roads. Many islands are only accessible by boat, and the road network of major islands not complete, lacking in infrastructure, or simply does not exist.

Due to these limitations, Ministry of Health (MoH) vaccination and health supply logistics are expensive and depend on predominant climate conditions. Mobile teams are frequently required to walk to villages carrying all equipment to undertake the vaccination of children and communities in remote areas.
The challenges faced to access remote communities and support the vaccine supply chain also contributes to the frequent lack of stock within health facilities.

What is the Vanuatu MoH looking for?

MoH, in assessment with UNICEF, is exploring the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), or drones, as a quick, reliable, and effective mode of transportation to deliver vaccines from main health facilities to dispensaries to aid post and mobile vaccination teams. Including maintaining the cargo temperature between 2 and 8 Celsius degrees -to ensure the cold chain is not interrupted and the vaccines are delivered in optimal condition.
The primary objective of the project is to test the technical feasibility and economical sustainability of including this new mode of transportation into the existing Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) as a last-mile delivery resource. To achieve this, three (3) Request for Tender (RFT) processes for Physical Services will be officially issued by the end of October 2017, one for a selected island in each of the following provinces: PENAMA, SHEFA, and TAFEA.
The RFTs are not mutually exclusive and, if individuals or companies opt to apply, may result in them being contracted to provide services for more than one of the three provinces.

Prepare and submit your Tender!

The Government of Vanuatu and Ministry of Health (MoH) are looking for individuals or companies worldwide, which can provide a drone-based service for vaccine delivery, and incorporate it as a new mode of transport in  WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) implemented in this Pacific Country.
In the upcoming weeks, the Ministry of Health will officially release   RFTs – selecting up to three companies to deliver vaccines with the use of drones, and according to cold chain standards.
The services are expected to be carried out in three different provinces, for a limited period of time, starting on June 2018..

Why apply to this Tender?

This operational service opportunity is the second stage to the vaccine challenge that was launched in June 2017. The aim is to assess the feasibility of RPAS cargo delivery in the Pacific. If your system and service proves to be efficient and cost-effective, you will have the opportunity to compete for a longer-term engagement with the Government of  Vanuatu to provide RPAS delivery services.
UNICEF’s need for RPAS cargo delivery extends beyond the Pacific region. Through participation in this opportunity, you will be connected to UNICEF experts exploring the use of RPAS and connected to other companies active in this space. Data generated from your service will inform UNICEF’s global strategy and the Pacific region’s approach to using RPAS in cargo delivery.

Interested? What’s next?


There has been a delay in the start of the project due to funds clearance. The Donor Agency, the Government of Vanuatu, and UNICEF are currently speeding this process. Please note the changes in dates.

REGISTER HERE – including invitation to pre-tender meeting  (webinar format) – opportunity to ask questions about the tender process and learn more about the requirements

Official Issuance of the RFT process: Last week of March 2018

Tenders Submission Deadline: three weeks from the RFT release.

Procurement: Ministry of Health (MoH). Government of Vanuatu

Technical Support: UNICEF

Access the Pre-Tender Webinar notes here.

Register your interest here


Previously: Vanuatu Drone Challenge 

Aerial shot of the island of Efate. ©Vanuatu Helicopters/2017/Andy Martin
The Government of Vanuatu, in partnership with UNICEF, launched a drone challenge inviting the industry to test their RPAS technology for transportation of cargo in the Pacific.  This challenge is the first stage (part of three phases) to assess the feasibility of RPAS cargo delivery in the Pacific. If proven feasible – will result in an issuance of a long-term agreement and be part of the overall goal to incorporate it as a new mode of transport in  WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) implemented in this Pacific Country. View invitation document here.
On July 27, the Government of Vanuatu – with the support of UNICEF – announced the participants for the first phase of the Vanuatu drone trial in August 2017. These six self-funded candidates will travel to Vanuatu from countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Israel and Australia to demonstrate the performance of their drones. The six candidates selected to participate are: Volans-i inc., Martek Marine Ltd, JAR Aerospace Pty Ltd, Colugo Systems, Finish the Call LLC, and Firetail Bormatec JV. Martek CEO Paul Luen said: “The opportunity to deploy our unique capabilities for the good of the people of Vanuatu was an opportunity we had to grasp. We’re certain we’ll deliver a reliable cargo delivery service to enable long-term deployment at a national level. Read more.
Overview: Existing National Vaccine Delivery Program
The 14 Pacific Island Countries are home to 2.3 million people, including 1.2 million children and youth, living on more than 660 islands and atolls stretching across 17.2 million km2 of the Pacific Ocean, an area comparable to the combined size of the United States of America and Canada. For more information, click here.
The UNICEF Pacific immunization program covers 14 Pacific Island Countries, each with many scattered and remote islands, posing a number of geographical and logistic challenges.  Vanuatu, an archipelago of 83 islands that run 1600 km north to south, faces considerable vaccine supply chain logistical and access challenges in reaching remote communities and its health facilities are frequently faced with frequent lack of stock.  

Flight Path for Phase 1 

Download it here.

Contact Info:

For media inquiries please contact: acollins [at] unicef [dot] org
For other inquiries please click here.