That’s enough, Invisible Children

I am not a fan of Invisible Children. They may have good intentions, but they have horrible foresight and in many cases their efforts do more harm than good. Consider the following:

In an effort to bridge the communication gap between the vulnerable and isolated villages of the eastern DR Congo and the Central African Republic, the ever-so-dramatic political action group has set out to create a radio network that helps villages warn and notify each other of threatening (LRA) Lord Resistance Army  movements. The creatively named “Early Warning Radio Network” consists of  38 long-range, high-freqency, two-way radios, each of which is operated by local village volunteers.  The network’s creators hope a radio warning from a town could prepare nearby towns of potential similar attacks. With this warning, villages in the vicinity could in some way prepare for such an event and  possibly evacuate.

Without even going into the issues of sustaining this operation, the plan has horrendously backfired; there have been multiple reports that the radio networks  have actually made towns more vulnerable. Since these radios generally serve as the only ICTs in the region, the Congolese Army–which is on the hunt for LRA rebels–often uses them to communicate, consequently making radio-enabled villages not just supply/recruiting centers for the LRA, but strategic targets. Now the rebels  go-about looking for villages with radios to destroy them and kill their operators — certainly not the effect Invisible Children was going for.

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