HAMNET Report 19th January 2020

The International Telecommunications Union has issued its “Guidelines for national emergency telecommunications plan” this week, and notes on pages 80 and 81 that “radio amateurs have supported communications in emergency situations on a voluntary basis since the beginning of radio communications. They are experts in radio communications and have the equipment, skills and necessary frequencies allocated by ITU (2017d) to deploy networks in emergency events quickly and efficiently.

“The support provided by radio amateurs in cases of emergency has the following advantages:
• There is great coverage, due to the large number of amateur radio stations available and operating in all regions and in almost every country in the world.
• The coverage of amateur radio stations becomes a network independent of others.
• There are training programmes and simulation exercises for emergencies developed by national radio amateurs for situations of telecommunications in emergencies.
• They are qualified temporary volunteers who provide skills and experience essential for emergency telecommunications, with the sole purpose of supporting humanitarian aid services.
• They have skill in solving problems related to the use of telecommunications during emergencies with often very limited resources.
• Many amateur radio stations trained to handle emergency telecommunications have alternative power sources, such as battery power, solar power or generator power and can operate during power disruptions.”

Your writer finds it satisfying to note in what good regard the ITU continues to hold amateur radio. Let us endeavour to improve our standing with the authorities even more.

Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that the ARRL has launched the bi-monthly amateur radio magazine On the Air and has made the premier issue freely available to read on the internet

The magazine’s Editorial Director Becky Schoenfield W1BXY says “Every other month, On the Air will bring you project builds, operating techniques and know-how, definitions to make you fluent in hamspeak, stories from the community, wisdom from experienced hams, and much more.”

The first issue of On the Air January/February 2020, includes:
• A guide to buying your first handheld radio
• Step-by-step instructions for building simple antennas for VHF and HF
• A full-page infographic that explains how the ionosphere makes long-distance radio communication possible
• An “Up Close” Q & A with Jeremy Hong, KD8TUO, who reveals his favourite resources for new hams.
• …and much more!

Read On the Air at the short URL https://tinyurl.com/On-the-Air

Here’s good news of what radio amateurs with a sense of purpose can do for their community.

The Millennium Post reports that a 14-year-old girl was rescued from the clutches of kidnappers, after her grandparents alerted Gangasagar Mela authorities on Tuesday.

Suparna Mondal, a resident of Ghola, Khana in South 24-Parganas, was on her way to Gangasagar Mela along with her grandparents. When they reached Kachuberia Ghat at around 9 am, the crowd increased and she went missing. The grandparents then contacted the additional district magistrate (LR) and narrated the incident. A frantic search for the teenager started and she was traced within five hours.

“We have reunited the girl with her family members after a few hours of search,” said state minister for Fire and Emergency Services Sujit Bose.

“The additional district magistrate (LR) and Dr P Ulaganathan, district magistrate of South 24-Parganas, gave us a special task of tracing the girl. Our ham radio operators in-charge at Kachuberia Ghat – Abhrajit Das and S Sourabh – immediately informed all the team members at different locations across Sagar Island. The girl, along with three youths, was traced at road number five leading to Kapil Muni Temple. When our team members intercepted the youths, they ran away leaving the girl,” said Ambarish Nag Biswas, custodian and secretary of the West Bengal Radio Club (WBRC), an organisation of ham radio enthusiasts.

Well done, people, and thanks to Southgate News again for that insert.

Now, writing in Bloomberg Opinion, Adam Minter reports that smoke and ash erupted on Sunday from the Taal volcano in the Philippines, with the plume rising almost 15 km into the atmosphere and threatening hundreds of thousands of people. The Philippine government mobilized quickly. By Wednesday, more than 38,000 people were staying in evacuation centres, and many thousands more had dispersed to family throughout the country. Meanwhile, the government began to distribute supplies, including 100,000 protective face masks, in and around the eruption zone. There’s little time to waste: Volcanologists are warning that a hazardous eruption could come at any time.

Thanks to their planning, leaders in the Philippines hope that that eruption, if and when it comes, won’t be nearly as catastrophic as it would have been 10 years ago. Back then, the Philippines, like most emerging-market countries, mostly responded to disasters by cleaning up afterwards. Today, preparedness is a national priority, and the Philippines is a model for how emerging-market governments in the world’s most disaster-prone region can be ready for the worst.

Since 1970, 59% of the global death toll from disasters — about 2 million people — occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a United Nations report. Economic losses have also been profound, totalling about US$675 billion annually. The region’s disaster outlook is growing worse because of urbanization in vulnerable areas, degradation of the environment and the influence of a warming climate on extreme weather. In 2018, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for almost half of the world’s 281 natural disasters, and eight of the 10 deadliest. Already in 2020, at least 60 people have died as a result of flooding in Jakarta, and tens of thousands remain in temporary shelters.

Thanks to its location, the Philippines is more vulnerable to disaster than its neighbours. On average, eight or nine tropical cyclones make landfall on its coasts annually, bringing storm surges, flooding and landslides — phenomena that are likely to become more frequent and intensify as the climate warms. The country is perched atop the “Ring of Fire” — a geologically active path along the Pacific Ocean — and is home to 53 active volcanos and fault lines capable of major earthquakes near the country’s biggest cities!

By comparison, South Africa is a very safe haven, when viewed from the point of view of natural disasters. We have much to be grateful for.

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