HAMNET Report 25 March 2018

For the three Wildrunner events taking place in the Western Cape in the next few months, Regional Director Grant ZS1GS is looking for persons willing to step up and organise the HAMNET contingent involved in each race. Grant correctly feels the load of planning the radio comms, assembling the teams and liaising with the organisers should not be borne by one person for all three. Younger and less experienced men should be trained to help handle these events, with a view to increasing their capabilities. So if you’re a HAMNET member in the Western Cape, please consider offering to help organise these events. The first is the Jonkershoek event which takes place at the end of April, so get your intention in soon, please?

In a very nice report from Dave Higgs ZS2DH, of HAMNET Eastern Cape, he notes that “Hamnet Eastern Cape has assisted at a number of activities including the Herald Mountain Bike Race, the Herald Road race a week later, and the Addo Extreme 100 mile trail run series!

“The Addo Extreme is worth a bit more than a mention as it took place after some of the heaviest rains the Eastern Cape has seen in a while. Several of the higher checkpoints were inaccessible by 4×4 or even quad bike, and the organizers had to make use of the alternative routes they had planned.

“Radio communications were also nearly completely revised – without the usual high checkpoints, linking the lower river valley checkpoints with the higher checkpoints and the control centre proved difficult. But not too difficult for Hamnet Eastern Cape who deployed an HF station as a relay at the manned cross-band repeater (VHF/UHF) setup by Dave ZS2DH and Glen ZS2GV.

“As usual Tony ZR2TX was in the control centre, and Chris ZS2AAW, with the help of Michael ZS2MG, manned an internet breakout point at the Kabouga house. This satellite link provided WhatsApp for a number of the checkpoints along the route.

“Access to the park was by 4×4 only as the dust roads were reduced to mud!

“PEARS has received a thank you letter from the organizers who were very impressed with the flexibility and professionalism shown.

“This weekend we are supplying communications for a local rally and a mountain bike race while we prepare for a new extreme event on the 7th April and the full Iron Man event, also in April.

“What is this new extreme event? The Cockscomb classic is a mountain bike race over 103Km in the Cockscomb mountain range just north of Port Elizabeth. The challenging terrain will take riders over the range and as a result, communications will be needed on both the north and south side of the range and in a few deep valleys as well.

“This is a new event and no previous event has been done in this area. For the purposes of this event, and to improve communications in the Addo area, PEARS has placed a UHF repeater on one of the radio repeater sites high up in the Cockscomb range, and will add a VHF repeater there soon.”

Thanks you Dave – PEARS has certainly not been idle!

Now news from Stellenbosch University.

Alberto Francioli, a staff member of the Research Alliance for Disaster and Risk Reduction (RADAR), graduated on Thursday (22 March 2018) with the first-ever M.Phil in Disaster Risk Science and Development at Stellenbosch University (SU).  Francioli, who is also a volunteer firefighter, received his degree at the fifth ceremony of SU’s 2018 March graduation. His supervisor was Dr Robin Pharoah from RADAR.

Francioli’s study set out to identify the energy sources being used by low-income households in Lwandle, Nomzamo and Asanda Village in Somerset West and Strand. In particular, he wanted to investigate whether residents continue to employ frequently dangerous non-electric energy sources such as candles, paraffin and even firewood despite the access to electricity. Francioli says the aim was to determine the factors influencing these choices, the implications these energy choices have for fire risk, as well as the measures households employ to mitigate the risk of fire.

He held focus group sessions with residents and also used a household survey to collect information on household energy use strategies, perceptions of safety and accessibility of energy sources, and experiences of energy related fires from residents living in different types of dwellings.

Francioli points out that approximately 67.2% of households make use of energy stacking i.e. they alternate between electricity and paraffin to meet their daily energy needs.

“Unsurprisingly, fires in areas such as Lwandle, Nomzamo and Asanda Village have been attributed to the usage of unsafe and potentially hazardous forms of energy such as candles for lighting, paraffin for cooking and boiling water, and firewood for heating of dwellings. It has often been prescribed that key to curbing dwelling fires among low-income residential areas is to increase people’s access to electricity.”

However, Francioli’s research also found that dwelling fires caused by electric sources also appear to be on the rise, particularly among formal households and their backyard dwellings situated on their property.

Thought-provoking news, and congratulations to Mr Francioli!

Finally, HAMNET Western Cape is virtually all sorted out to assist at the idyllic Two Oceans Marathon taking place this Easter Saturday the 31st March. Nineteen members will man mobile sweeps, rovers and a back-marker, while two operators will supervise the cut-offs at the 25 and 42.2Km marks. Radio comms will be on City of Cape Town Tetra frequencies, with a dedicated channels for our sweeps, and all vehicles on the race will be tracked by GSM Trackers, which we will have sight of in the JOC. There will be several Race Tec sensor mats for the runners to cross, along the two courses, to help reduce cheating, and to help isolate where runners were last seen. The short course is a half marathon, as is customary, and the long race is a 56 km course along the False Bay coast as well as the Atlantic coast over Chapman’s Peak Drive. I hope to have a short report for you next Sunday.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.