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.
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.