In Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic & Social Council

Amateur Radio for Disaster Risk Reduction

Establishment of Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES)

Amateur license means an amateur license that authorizes the holder to operate an amateur or an amateur-satellite station, or an amateur station or amateur-satellite station located on board a land vehicle, a maritime vessel or an airborne vehicle.

There are lots of examples that the public communication network, even the Red Cross communication network has failed during the time of disaster especially during the time of cyclone disaster. Bangladesh is a country where 5% disaster of the world caused 85% of its damages, recently chances of earthquakes has increased and there are several small seismic turmoil in the city of Chittagong.

In India this is the Amateur Radio Operator first established communication in Orissa after super cyclone and in the city of Vuze – Guzrat after the earthquake, even in developed country like in USA government takes the help of Amateur radio operator even to catch smugglers. Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a popular activity in this regard. BNNRC members of the coastal area developed a disaster radio network, which works as an alternative stand-by and emergency communication system to public and Red Crescent radio network. BNNRC also developed a rapid deployment team known as RACES in its working areas for any rapid deployment in any place for disaster communication.

In June 2000 the network has organized training with funding support from OXFAM-GB especially to create amateur radio operators in coastal areas, accordingly two NGO leaders succeeded to pass the examination and commissioned two amateur radio stations both respectively in Barisal and Chittagong. After formation of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) a stagnant situation was created and for last three years no amateur radio examination was held and no new license was issued. BNNRC continuously pursued the Chairman of BTRC and gave applications and hearing.

Then a committee has been formed to conduct the examination in which BNNRC Chief Executive Officer is also the member. Promoting Amateur Radio is fundamental to build alternative emergency communication system especially in remote areas and international friendship without interference from government.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) finalized provisions and conditions of Amateur Radio License under this National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP).

Major Role Activities
Awareness raising Raising awareness about strategic use of Amateur Radio in disaster risk reduction and emergency services


Promotional activities on RACES

  Promotion of Amateur Radio


Developing a rapid deployment team known as RACES for any rapid deployment in any place for disaster communication

Advocacy Organizing workshops on RACES


Use of Amateur Radio Network for the effective and successful implementation of disaster risk reduction and rehabilitation programs


Provide Knowledge inputs for Amateur Radio Policy

Develop a Amateur Radio Handbbok / Call book for Bangladesh


Capacity building Providing technical support and training to facilitate Amateur Radio, its license and network service


In order to promote amateur radio operation in the country, BNNRC arranged three training courses for the enthusiasts. Most of the trainees have been successfully capable of using amateur radio and qualified in the examination. A total of 340 people of different level and professions actively took part in the courses.

The first training course was held at IUCN Conference Room on 03-08 June 2000. The second training course was held at CARITAS auditorium in Chittagong on 17-21 August 2002 and BNNRC arranged third training course on 12-15 January 2004 in cooperation with Foundation for Amateur Radio International Service (FAIRS) and COAST Trust.

As a consequence of the consistent advocacy of BNNRC, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has resumed conducting Amateur Radio Operator License Tests. The tests are conducted through Computer Based Testing (CBT) system.


WORLD AMATEUR RADIO DAY 2009: Amateur Radio: Your Resource in Disaster and Emergency Communication

Each year on 18 April, radio amateurs celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. On that day in 1925 the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) was founded. In 2009, the theme of the event is Amateur Radio: Your Resource in Disaster and Emergency Communication.

It is not by coincidence that last year’s meeting of the IARU Administrative Council chose this subject at this time. While the Amateur Radio Service has traditionally made its contributions to emergency and disaster response ever since its very beginnings almost 100 years ago, this role has gained a lot of importance just in the recent past. It has done so mainly for two reasons:

* The number and dimension of natural as well as man-made disasters is unfortunately on the increase, and
* The modern communication technologies are increasingly complex, infrastructure-dependent and therefore also increasingly vulnerable.

The Amateur Radio Services puts two equally valuable assets at its disposal for emergency and disaster prevention, preparedness and response:

* A large number of very flexible and mostly infrastructure-independent, local, national, regional and global networks, and
* A large number of skilled operators, who know how to communicate with often very limited means and to establish communications even under the most difficult circumstances.

The tools at their disposal range from the most robust means such as battery-operated stations operating in Morse code to links through amateur radio satellites and interconnectivity with the Internet, in voice, text, image and data modes. They range from local VHF networks of fixed, mobile and portable stations to shortwave networks that span the globe. All these networks are operated on a daily basis by men and women who are thoroughly familiar with their technology and their intricacies.

Telecommunications have become a commodity that society takes for granted, and the sudden loss of that service is often felt in a similar way to the loss of shelter, food and medical support. When disasters occur in regions that do not have good coverage by public networks, or when existing communications infrastructures have just been disrupted or destroyed by such events, the Amateur Radio Service comes to the rescue. Amateur Radio operators provide communications for the rescuers and relief workers and their organizations and they help to provide communications for those affected by a disaster.

In fact, contributions to emergency and disaster relief are a major argument for the preservation and the extension of the privileges the Amateur Radio Service enjoys in international and national regulations. This is one of the reasons why more and more Amateur Radio operators, through their clubs and their national societies, prepare very seriously for their role in emergencies. However, their skills can be put to use only if they are known by other first responders. Effective response to emergencies can only occur with the work of volunteers in all the various fields; from search and rescue to medical assistance and those who can provide food and shelter. Communication skills are a new, but equally vital commodity.

Activities on the occasion of World Amateur Radio Day 2009 can be a great opportunity to spread the word about what the “hams” are doing.
28 January 2009

Hans Zimmermann, F5VKP / HB9AQS
IARU International Coordinator
for Emergency Communications