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Active 2010-Present

Communities in eastern Central African Republic (CAR) and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are some of the most isolated and neglected on the planet. These communities lack the basic communication infrastructure to report violence or receive warning when armed groups are active nearby. Historically, violent poachers and other armed groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have been able to move freely throughout the region, attacking remote villages, as they exploit the region’s wildlife and other natural resources. These atrocities go largely undetected and undeterred.

In December 2009, the LRA attacked ten villages spanning a distance of 105 km in northeastern DRC, killing more than 320 people in four days during what became known as the Makombo Massacre. The lack of communication systems, combined with the limited capacity of local security forces, meant that communities along this route received no advance warning that the LRA was approaching.

Our Response

In 2010, we began building the Early Warning Radio Network in order to help disrupt these patterns of violence. It’s composed of high-frequency (HF), two-way, long-range radios that give communities in DRC and CAR the ability to report violent activity to one another and to security actors and humanitarian organizations who can respond in times of need. We have partnered with local community organizations to utilize local expertise sustainably expand the HF network and integrate participation in the Network with Community Resilience Committees.

Statistics

74 HF radios in the Early Warning Network

78 communities protected by HF radios or satellite phones

300,000 + people directly benefitting from the Early Warning Network

After being vetted by data analysts, reports from the Early Warning Network are fed into the LRA Crisis Tracker, a public website that provides near-real-time information on current LRA activity and the activity of other armed groups operating in this region of central Africa. This system allows for more rapid and thorough confirmation of security incidents, giving humanitarians, conservation and security actors, and communities the information necessary to prepare for and mitigate the effects of wildlife and natural resource exploitation and armed violence.

Learn More

The need for an Early Warning Radio Network was initially identified by a local organization in DRC called Commission Diocésaine pour Justice et Paix (CDJP). Its implementation was further recommended after Human Rights Watch, UN DDR/RR, and Invisible Children assessments in the region. Communities participating in the project do so voluntarily. They have been identified by their susceptibility to armed violence, location along known illicit poaching routes, and their lack of communication infrastructure necessary to report and receive security information.

Today, the Early Warning Radio Network facilitates twice-daily security broadcasts between 66 HF radios and 29 satellite phones, protecting over 80 communities. Invisible Children is constantly expanding the Early Warning Radio Network in order to improve the accuracy of reports and connect more communities to this life-saving mechanism. Invisible Children is also refurbishing non-operational and abandoned HF radios in CAR and DRC. In some areas, satellite phones have been integrated into the Early Warning Radio Network, allowing for more rapid expansion of the network and giving communities the ability to hide their communication equipment more easily in case of an attack.

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