You’ve heard of Ushahidi, the crowd sourced crisis tracking platform that was developed in Kenya at the time of the post-election violence in 2008, and that has since been used to track events like the Haiti earthquake and Snowmageddon. Well, now there’s also an LRA crisis tracker, following the actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group that has been abducting, raping, maiming, and killing civilians (including the enslaving of numerous children) in Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic for decades. The LRA Crisis Tracker collects data from NGOs and regional actors to produce real time reports of LRA activities; here, for instance, is some of their Twitter feed:
12 Feb-Napopo, DRC: 4 of the 5 people abducted on 11 Feb escaped from the #LRA. 1 woman is still being held captive.
11 Feb-Napopo, DRC: Returning home from the market, 5 people ambushed by suspected #LRA. They were abducted and their goods looted.
14 Feb-Nangilidakwe, DRC: A fisherman shot in the hand by alleged #LRA is currently being treated at a local health center.
10 Feb-Bangulukpu, DRC: Suspected #LRA killed a man with a knife when he fell to the ground carrying 2 bags of flour and corn.
And here you can find their monthly security brief for November, 2011.
I learned of the LRA crisis tracker from Chris Blattman’s blog post Can we predict eruptions of violence? Statistics and the future of conflict early warning, in which he discusses the use of data collected in Liberia in 2009 “to predict mass violence–communal killings, ethnic conflicts, or mob violence–in 2010.”
We correctly predict up to 75% of all conflicts two years later
Simpler model with fewer factors do better than more interactive models with many factors
We can train the models not only to maximize accuracy, but to minimize “false negatives”–the costly cases where you predict peace instead of violence
We can identify 40 to 70 percent of all incidents (“true positives”), with three to five false alarms (or “false positives”) for each correctly predicted incident
Other African news:
The Harvard Business Review has a blog post by Bright B. Simons, who lives in Ghana and who invented the SMS shortcode system for authenticating pharmaceuticals, on Africa’s Chance to Leapfrog the West.
Forbes has an article on the Top 20 Tech Startups in Africa.
Oxfam International reports that Ending Poverty Need Not Be At the Expense of the Environment.
In Nigeria, the First Islamic Bank begins business with three branches.
In South Africa Class Overtakes Race As Most Divisive Factor in Country, Says IJR Report. I note a parallel with the US, where income, more than race, is now driving the achievement gap.