Written by Diamonds for Peace Liberia Staff
Many people in Liberia’s western region depend on artisanal diamond mining for survival, but it is clearly visible that the majority of these people are living in abject poverty. Weasua is one of Liberia’s historic diamond mining communities in which diamonds were discovered in 1958. Despite the many years of mining and recovering diamonds, the citizens continue to work under poor conditions and thus continue to live poorly. Upon realizing the diamonds that are recovered from Weasua are being used to develop other places in and outside of Liberia, while Weasua and its people continue to exist in deplorable conditions, the local stakeholders have started to think that recovered diamonds from their soil should also benefit them in ways that their lives and community can improve.
Having interacted with NGO Diamonds for Peace Liberia and learned about its vision to work towards a world in which all diamonds are mined, cut, and processed with humanitarian and environmental considerations, and with the mission to provide self-reliant support to help improve the working and living conditions of he artisanal diamond workers, the local stakeholders have formally requested Diamonds for Peace Liberia to make intervention by implementing its model fair diamond project in their community.
The stakeholders including town chief, chair lady, diggers’ representative, cooperative’s chairman, miners, diggers, and the mining chairman jointly wrote and affixed their individual signatures to the request letter for intervention. In the letter they pointed out their weaknesses as follows:
- their limited knowledge on diamond evaluation,
- their inability to bargain sales prices with the brokers who buy their diamonds with low prices, given that they have to depend on the brokers for sponsorship to mine diamonds, and
- the lack of organized structure (cooperative) to work in the interest of the artisanal diamond workers.
They believe these are the factors responsible for their poor living conditions and are now looking for ways to address these issues. Though they have identified the root cause of their problems, they can’t get the needed solution by themselves, so they think the Diamonds for Peace Project is well suited to help them solve their problems.
Action by community to help themselves
If you were to speak with the locals in Weasua, you would find out that they are dreaming of better and befitting lives. Most times they would speak of a community with all its basic needs like standard health care delivery system, improved sanitation, good roads, modern housing facilities, improved working conditions, etc. Against this background, the citizens have initiated several self-help projects including the building of bridges, community town hall, and community radio station. They also made labor contributions to two GSM companies for the construction of communication towers in their community. They are making efforts and have organized a miners’ cooperative and a diggers’ association as a means of finding solutions.
The artisanal diamond workers have worked under poor conditions for many decades. Many of them have lived and died poorly and many continue to live and work poorly. In Weasua, the miners and diggers have realized their faults and think they should not continue to work in a fashion that has subjected them to poor living all these many years. They want to work together in a cooperative because they believe working in a cooperative will help them consolidate their efforts and successfully address many of the issues affecting them. However, they have many weaknesses and are therefore calling for help from donors to support the Diamonds for Peace Liberia model fair diamond project as it is aligned with their plans to improve their work and lives.
Front Photo:Weasua community initiates a bridge renovation project(DFP)