Non-governmental organizations Resolve (Washington D.C.) and Invisible Children (California) have teamed up by using social media tools to bring Africa’s longest-running war close to home.
For the past 25 years, a brutal war in central Africa has been almost “invisible” to the Western world. The rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has been kidnapping tens of thousands of children (as young as 5 years old) in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic to build up their regime. These innocent children are forced to fight and kill, and no attempts to stop the injustice had been made until Invisible Children and Resolve stepped in in 2003 to raise awareness and advocate for change. This past spring, Invisible Children raised $1,778,630 for early warning radio networks in Central Africa to help protect the civilians. Every dollar given to this campaign was raised solely through the use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr- proving just how powerful and resourceful social media can be.
Last week, Invisible Children and Resolve unveiled what is perhaps their biggest social media project to date- The LRA Crisis Tracker. This tool tracks and plots data warning of future LRA attacks, as well as updates when attacks and abductions have been made. It not only brings awareness of the LRA to the Western world, but to the community in central Africa as well. These real-time updates are streamed on Twitter (@CrisisTracker) as well as on LRAcrisistracker.com. The public can also download maps and reports for the most detailed analysis of the LRA attacks. The LRA Crisis Tracker is a huge breakthrough in making the information and data of the war readily available to the worldwide public. Because this war is not on the general media’s agenda, social media networks are shedding light on an otherwise invisible humanitarian crisis. This case is just another example of how social media is making global change possible.
To learn more about the LRA Crisis Tracker and receive real-time updates from the front lines of the war zone, follow @CrisisTracker on Twitter or visit www.lracrisistracker.com. You can also view the LRA Crisis Tracker press packet for more information: http://www.lracrisistracker.com/sites/default/files/CT_presspacket.pdf.
Written by Charlotte Strazdus.