John Christian (l) of DARCI shares some information on ham radio operation with a curious group

In the upcoming weeks, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Dominica Amateur Radio Club Inc (DARCI) will offer training in amateur radio operation (ham radios) with a specialization in emergency communication.

An IOM release states that sessions will start from Wednesday 30, January 2019, at the St. Mary’s Academy.

At the end of the training, trainees will sit exams and successful candidates will receive the international ham radio certification.

Thirty ham radio sets are also being provided for emergency shelters and targeted communities across the island as part of an emergency preparedness program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by IOM.

Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, the telecommunications sector sustained a devastating blow, estimated at EC $128 million in damage, coupled with a complete shutdown of traditional means of communication for nearly three days.  Major service providers, Digicel and Flow took months to restore service island wide. With no power, phones or internet, Dominica was dependent on amateur radio to contact the outside world.

“Given the experience in Dominica where traditional telecommunications networks were down after Hurricane David in 1979, and again in 2017 for almost 3 days after Hurricane Maria, investing in strengthening the government’s emergency communications network, including ham radio equipment and trained operators is a clear priority,” Community Engagement Officer for the IOM, Maxine Alleyne-Esprit explained.  “This training in amateur radio operation, and provision of 30 ham radio sets is one aspect of support that IOM is offering under a USAID project to support the government of Dominica in improving the preparedness of communities for emergencies.”

The Government oversees the telecommunications sector through the Director of Telecommunications as well as the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), under the Ministry of Information, Science, Telecommunications and Technology.  Along with the private telecoms networks, the emergency communications network has been designed to exist within the purview of the Emergency Operating Center (EOC).

“The NTRC and DARCI, have assisted us with identifying the communities where the greatest gaps exist, and we have collaboratively developed a training package and plan best suited to address those issues.  We have also directly targeted people with disabilities through the DAPD (Dominica Association of People with Disabilities),” Alleyne-Esprit said.

Interested participants are expected to fill out a registration form and provide a police record to the IOM before enrolling in the class.

Meanwhile, the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) is soliciting individuals interested in receiving training in disaster-related areas to contact them via email at odmdominica@gmail.com or by phone or whatsapp at 285-0794.