HAMNET Report 15th December 2019

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, of Gift of the Givers, writing in the Maverick Citizen, says that they are receiving cries of desperation, long early-morning queues, and frantic calls from communities in the Eastern Cape. Communities are at a loss what to do as dam after dam, river after river and borehole after borehole shuts down. Added to that comes load shedding.

Small town economies dependent on festive season tourists are at their wits’ end as water is simply not available to service paying guests. This challenging scenario is about to become a nightmare as thousands of economically active citizens return home to the Eastern Cape in the coming holidays. Water demands are going to increase exponentially, amplifying the expanding crisis.

Gift of the Givers’ rapid response teams are battling to keep up with the demands. Frantically drilling more boreholes, adding a third water tanker (Isuzu gave them three water tankers and three bakkies), more tankers from AECI are expected, increasing the number of JoJo tanks to store water overnight (JoJo Tank company gave them 200 JoJo tanks), more pumps to be installed in the coming days in Adelaide, Bedford, Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg as all their lab tests for water come back “suitable for consumption”. Butterworth, Queenstown, Bolotwa, Cala, Willowvale are all crying out for immediate intervention. Government funding is no more a priority; it is way beyond the urgency and emergency phase.

Water is not the only requirement. There is a huge need for fodder, and food parcels for farm workers and farmers. Communities have banded together to produce woollen and ceramic items, bake cookies and distribute to markets nationwide. There is an intense urgency, a heart-rending desperation that needs collective united action to save both the Northern and Eastern Cape and their agricultural, labour-intensive economy.

As HAMNET readers, please attempt to assist where you can.

And while the Eastern Cape is getting no rain, KZN is getting too much!

Reporting in IOL on Wednesday the 11th, Mercury Reporters said that Disaster Management Teams have been placed on standby in the wake of yet another alert of heavy rains scheduled for KwaZulu-Natal this week.

The South African Weather Service has issued a warning of heavy rains that can lead to localised flooding and reduced visibility over parts of Ilembe and the northern parts of eThekwini on Wednesday.

Acting KZN Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, has urged residents to be cautious as inclement weather conditions continue to pose a serious threat.

“We have placed our teams on alert and they are monitoring areas and routes that are prone to localised flooding so that they can provide adequate support to residents,” said Nkonyeni.

The department is appealing to residents who reside in low lying areas to exercise caution as the risk of localised flooding is real. So far no incidents have been reported as a result of the continuing heavy rains.

The South African Weather Service said there is a 60% chance of rain in the early morning and afternoon for much of the week.

ReliefWeb says that the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), led by the World Food Programme (WFP), carried out swift assessments in Cyclone Idai’s wake this year, and set up communications services for humanitarians and looked for ways to enable the affected population to access information. Amid the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai, the cruciality of radio in daily Mozambican life was evident and the ETC identified six community stations needing urgent rehabilitation. Now, with new communications towers, antennas and electronic equipment initiated by the ETC, community radio transmissions are active again.

In Mozambique, community radio stations play an essential role as amplifiers of public service information and they are also instrumental in reaching the most vulnerable groups including women, children and people with disabilities.

Radio messages can be broadcast about how to prepare for future cyclones, alert the population of an impending storm, spread knowledge about how to avoid cholera and malaria in the aftermath of a cyclone, and be used to locate loved ones.

The quick response of the ETC is to be applauded.

Southgate Amateur Radio News advises you musical amateurs to look for German special event station, DL250BTHVN, to be active between December 16th, 2019 and December 17th, 2020.

This monster call sign celebrates the Beethoven anniversary year and will take place under the auspices of the German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The aims of this anniversary are to convey Beethoven’s work, to strengthen and promote innovative projects, and to increase Bonn’s reputation as a Beethoven city. Ludwig van Beethoven was born in December 1770 in Bonn and lived there for the first 22 years.

Actually, thinking about it, I realise that he was the instigator of the whole Morse code thing with his letter V – dit dit dit dah. Perhaps the entire Morse alphabet is buried in his 5th Symphony, and we don’t have Samuel Morse to thank, after all!

Now for the Anti-Vaxxers in our midst, you’ll be concerned to hear that health authorities have sounded a warning over rising numbers of measles cases, with new data showing more than 140,000 people died from measles in 2018.

New estimates published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) this week show that in 2018, there were 9,769,400 estimated measles cases and 142,300 related deaths around the world that year, up from 7,585,900 estimated cases and 124,000 estimated deaths in 2017.

The data show Sub-Saharan Africa, where many children have persistently missed out on vaccination, was the region worst affected. The most affected countries were Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, which together accounted for almost half of all measles cases worldwide. The United States also reported its highest number of cases in 25 years. Four countries in Europe – Albania, Czechia, Greece and the United Kingdom – lost their measles elimination status in 2018 following protracted outbreaks of the disease.

“This latest data show that we are unfortunately backsliding in our progress against an easily-preventable disease: measles,” said Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “But we can turn the tide against these outbreaks through collective action.”

“Ah”, I hear you say, “The asserted but untrue risk of autism from measles vaccine is far worse than the risk of dying from measles!”

Thank you to Univadis Medical News for those statistics.

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