In early November, the Invisible Children team traveled to several towns in Bas-Uele District to push forward the expansion of the Early Warning Network using HF radios in the district. In one town, Invisible Children met with the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese, who expressed his enthusiasm and support for the implementation of the HF network in his territory.
Everywhere we went, one thing stood out: the excitement of the local residents for being part of the expanding communications network, both HF and FM, spreading across Haut and Bas Uele. In one town that’s already linked in to the HF network, for example, the “chef de poste” (local government authority) eagerly produced a proposal for the installation of a new, community-based FM radio. In another town, a local team is already getting ready to receive and operate the HF radio.
The ongoing eagerness that local people have for the expansion of this network reflects the fact that the HF network was a local initiative. The Catholic diocese in Haut-Uele was already making use of their network of HF radios to exchange diocesan news and communiqués when the Lord’s Resistance Army began to attack the population in the region. It was then that the diocese increasingly began to use the network for security purposes, both to share information of what was happening in other communities, and to warn of possible LRA attack.
Today, the network provides an impressive share of the information collected and disseminated by the international community in Haut-Uele District, where many attacks and incidents linked to the LRA have occurred in recent months and years. Concrete examples of the impact of the HF radios abound, from the ability of humanitarian actors in the medical field to take quick action on reports of serious injury, to the escaped child accessed more quickly by child protection actors as a result of information disseminated through the Early Warning Network. And the communications trail keeps growing.
- Sarah Katz-Lavigne
DRC Programs Coordinator, based in Dungu, DRC