How the LRA Crisis Tracker helps prevent atrocities in Africa


What is the LRA Crisis Tracker?

The LRA Crisis Tracker is a real-time crisis mapping platform and data collection system, which makes information about the attacks and movement of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Africa publicly available. The LRA is a rebel group held responsible for Africa’s longest-running armed conflict. The LRA operates in Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, and is accused of violence against civilians and forcing children to participate in hostilities.

The tool is produced by Invisible Children, an international NGO working to assist communities in LRA-affected areas of Central Africa, and Resolve, a Washington D.C.-based NGO advocating for an end to atrocities perpetrated by the LRA. It combines empirical data with storytelling, visually engaging data representation and narrative-rich media.


Why is the LRA Crisis Tracker essential?

Incidents taking place in Africa can easily go ignored when they happen in remote areas where communication is nearly impossible. According to a press release of the creators of this platform, four out of five LRA incidents have never been reported by any Western or regional news source in spite of the fact that LRA attacks on civilians occur on average every 21 hours.

The project is aimed both at informing local communities through an early-warning radio network about the activities of the LRA as well as informing the organisations that support the affected communities in order to reduce their response time to incidents. For the media the platform is a source of real-time information. Journalists can sign up with their email address to receive breaking news on the conflict.

Michael Poffenberger, Executive Director of Resolve, explains: 'Not only is this a pioneering tool for activists and policymakers, but community-run protection organisations in Central Africa will directly benefit from regular reports analysing LRA movement and attack patterns. The response time to LRA atrocities should be three hours, not three months.'

How does it work?

The LRA Crisis Tracker consists of a digital map, a breaking news feed, biweekly data-analysis reports and a mobile application. A plotted map shows incidents by type on a timeline. 


Screenshot of the LRA Crisis Tracker showing data from the beginning of 2011


With the timeline the movement of the LRA can be followed. Below the map there is a real time feed listing the most recent news. Biweekly reports are compiled on the LRA activities.

You can learn more about how the map and the database were produced in the project documentation released by the creators of this platform. A part of the raw data fed into the platform is available for public download under the Open Data Common’s Open Database License.

Explore the LRA Crisis Tracker at LRACrisisTracker.com.

Have you used the LRA Crisis Tracker in your work? Let us know your experience with it by leaving a comment.