IARU at World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Category 5 Cyclone Pam caused severe damage when it hit the Pacific nation of Vanuatu last weekend. Recovery is expected to take a very long time.

The idyllic location is a haven for tourists and DXpeditioners, with all who had been there struggling to recognise damaged landmarks now being shown on TV news.

Like other countries in the region very few local radio amateurs exist, and no communication has been heard from many islands.

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale was at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held at Sendai Japan and made an emotional plea for humanitarian assistance.

All of the development made by Vanuatu has been swept up in the widespread devastation that has been deaths, injuries, loss of power and communications, with up to 70% of the population displaced. President Lonsdale has now returned to Vanuatu.

The International Amateur Radio Union Region 3 was on a panel as part of the UN Conference at Tohoku University, organised by the International Telecommunications Union Development (ITU-D) Sector.

Sendai is a major city in North Eastern Japan in the disaster area of Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.

On a panel were representatives from Japan, The Philippines, Uganda, ITU and IARU Region 3, who faced an enthusiastic audience of 30.

The Vice Minister for Policy Coordination, Ministry of Internal affairs and Communications, Japan, Yasuo Sakamoto, thanked the international cooperation provided at Great East Japan Earthquake and the disaster use of mobile phones for voice/data communications.

The Deputy Executive Director, Information and Communications Technology Office, Department of Science and Technology, Republic of Philippines, Nicolas D. Ojeda Jr., talked of the experience with Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013.

He mentioned that Amateur Radio was very helpful to maintain the communications between local community and disaster-relief organisations.

IARU Region 3 Secretary, Ken Yamamoto JA1CJP, explained how Amateur Radio can contribute to Disaster Risk Reduction.

He stated that the radio amateurs can bring warning and or rescue requests at the early phase of disaster, that they can provide grassroots communications between evacuation shelters and disaster relief organisations in relief phase.
It is a good resource of trained communications operators.

Ken JA1CJP also referred to the ITU Recommendation, Report and Radio Regulations relevant to Amateur Radio in disaster communications.

The panel moderator opened the floor for questions. Armenia questioned the cooperation framework between radio amateurs and government organisations, and the response time to establish Amateur Radio communication in case of disaster.

Ken JA1CJP responded that the multi-layer agreement between societies or local radio clubs and national relief agencies/local governments, would be beneficial for maximum coordination during a disaster.

In most major disasters electricity is cut, normal communications are overloaded or out of service, while Amateur Radio with its alternative power can provide vital messaging to help the responders and their community.

The outcome at Sendai is another example of the ongoing work being done by the IARU to further emergency communications provided by skilled and trained radio amateurs.

-Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.