Ham Radio News: Radio Technology for Isolated Communities

Far from a needless luxury, radio technology can be key to facilitating communications in isolated communities of Central America.

| July/August 1979

  • 058 radio technology - isolated communities.jpg
    Isolated communities in Central America derive great benefit from radio technology. Here a neophyte Mayan CB operator receives some medical good news.
  • copthorne macdonald - 1980
    Copthorne Macdonald is the inventor of slow-scan television, a method of amateur radio transmission that allows ham operators to both hear and see each other during shortwave broadcasts.

  • 058 radio technology - isolated communities.jpg
  • copthorne macdonald - 1980

Those of us who want to retreat from the over-development that's taken place in our own rich nations are also well aware that the opposite problem exists in many poorer countries below North America's southern border.

The majority of the world's people would gladly swap their situation for ours—and few of us "wealthier" folks would want to retreat all the way back to the 50% infant mortality, insufficient food, and chronic illness still found in some "undeveloped" lands. The choice is not "All technology or none," but rather "Which technologies are appropriate, both for human beings and for the other inhabitants of our small planet?"

In order to improve the quality of life in less developed nations, it's usually necessary first to supply the basic physical needs: nutritious food, pure water, and health care. It might not seem that radio technology is appropriate during this early stage of the development process, but some recent work in isolated communities of two Central American countries indicates that electronic communication can be of help.

Besides radio's ability to provide a high return in human terms for the amount of capital invested, it also has little environmental impact and can be used by folks who aren't able to read or write—a definite advantage in areas where literacy isn't widespread.

Radio Saves Lives

When an earthquake shook Guatemala in February 1976, a group from PLENTY—the relief organization run by The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee—went down to help the Guatemalans rebuild. After the emergency was over, Farm folks remained to work with the local Mayan people on some of the area's longstanding, basic problems.

Among those who stayed were hams from The Farm's radio crew, who used their equipment to keep relief workers in touch with relatives back in Tennessee. Later, as these people became more deeply involved with the problems of the Indians, they sensed other ways that radio could be of value. During the next three years, the Tennessee group helped to bring several new communication systems into existence. Of prime importance were two emergency radios that employed standard CB transceivers.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters