9th May 2020
28th May 2020 revision (inserted URL for an update)

NGO Diamonds for Peace (DFP) supports the self-reliance of the artisanal diamond miners and diggers in Liberia, West Africa by strengthening their capacity and organizing cooperatives so that they can trade their artisanally mined diamonds at a fair price.

In Liberia, just as the 14-year civil war ended in 2003 and the country was on its way from recovery to development, the 2014-2015 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, the largest ever, killed more than 4,800 people and lost many of the country’s future human resources. Having survived Ebola and a lot of pain from the civil war, Liberia is facing even greater difficulties due to the COVID-19 infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 2.3 health professionals (doctors, nurses, midwives) for every 1,000 people[1]. On the other hand, Liberia, which has lost valuable medical personnel due to the civil war and Ebola Virus Disease, has only 261[2] doctors for a population of 4.8 million[3]. It means one doctor for every 18,000 people. In addition, there are only 6 ventilators in Liberia[4], which are required for those severely ill with the COVID-19 infection.

In light of this situation, it is expected that it will be very difficult to receive treatment in Liberia if you are infected with COVID-19 and become seriously ill. Therefore, prevention is of utmost importance.

When you’re in the States, Europe or Asia, Africa may seem like a distant and irrelevant region. However, if the spread of the infection in Africa is left unattended, there is a great risk that the African variant of the COVID-19 will spread around the world in the near future, just as the European variant of the COVID-19 has been spreading in New York City and Asia[5]. Even if a vaccine is made, it may not work against a virus with a mutated gene[6] according to Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

In order to protect our own lives and the lives of the people of the world, we need to work together to overcome this crisis now!

Emergency Assistance by Diamond for Peace

We have been conducting multiple outreach efforts to provide emergency assistance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections in Liberia.

  1. First Round (May 2020, see update)

In the Mandingo quarter of Kakata City in Margibi County where the Diamond for Peace Liberia is located, we have provided 70 poor households without hand washing facilities with hygiene supplies such as hand wash buckets, soaps, cloth masks, correct information on COVID-19 infections, and instruction on preventive methods. After distribution, monitoring has been carried out to confirm that people are washing their hands in the correct way, and we provide them with additional soaps and follow-up instructions.
You can read the update by clicking here.

  1. Second Round in an artisanal diamond mining community

We will similarly distribute hygiene supplies, provide information and guidance to the poor families (artisanal diamond miners, diggers, and villagers) in Weasua town, an artisanal diamond mining community, where Diamond for Peace is partnering to implement the activities for capacity development.

From the third round onwards, we will provide the same kind of support in the artisanal diamond mining communities depending on the amount of donations we receive.

With your support of 25USD, we can distribute a hygiene kit for a household with an average of 8 members.

A Hygiene Kit

Hand washing bucket

Soaps

Cloth masks for the whole family (Average 8 people per family)

 

You can make a difference!

[For U.S. residents/companies]
You can make a tax-deductible donation if you are a resident or a company in the U.S. by donating us through Empowerment Works, our fiscal sponsor in the U.S. Please click here to donate if you’d like to take this option.

[For residents/companies OUTSIDE U.S.]
If you live anywhere else, please fill out and submit the donation form at the end of this page. We will later email you a Paypal invoice.

Preparing distribution

Sensitizing a head of a household

Call to Action for Vulnerable Artisanal Mining Communities by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Civil Society Network

Through development and dissemination of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains for Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, the OECD promotes a transparent, human rights and environmentally responsible supply chain for minerals. As part of this endeavor, OECD holds an annual forum on responsible mineral supply chains. Through this forum, the civil society networks have been formed and Diamonds for Peace is a part of them.

83% of the world’s mining force makes their living in small-scale mines. Even before the COVID-19 epidemic, their lives were vulnerable, and now they are in even more danger. To overcome this situation, the civil society network has issued a statement calling on governments, financial institutions, international organizations and private companies to take immediate and coordinated action. Diamonds for Peace has signed the call and is making every effort to support vulnerable mining communities in Liberia.

A Report on the Current Situation in Liberia by Diamonds for Peace Liberia Local Staff

The news of the virus in the world and in Liberia’s neighboring countries of Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea terrified Liberians, given that the country has very poor border management and a fragile health system. The Liberian government in an attempt to prevent the virus from entering the country closed its borders and put several security measures in place. However, the virus was officially announced in Liberia on March 16, 2020, after a government official was tested positive for the virus upon his return from Switzerland. Starting with this case, the virus has spread from the capital city to other parts of the country and has infected 151 people as of April 30, 2020.

Measures taken to combat COVID-19 in Liberia

Since the virus was announced in Liberia, the government has instituted several measures in order to contain the spread and get rid of the virus. On March 16, 2020, the government closed its borders with the neighboring countries, ordered the closure of all schools, churches, mosques, entertainment centers, non-essential businesses, etc. and prohibited public gathering, wedding and funeral services with more than 10 people. Finally, on April 8, 2020 the government declared a state of emergency and quarantined all 15 counties, has locked down the entire country and mandated the citizens to stay in their homes.

Police erects checkpoint at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County to ensure government mandates are enforced

People are constantly warned by government and health authorities to:

  • Wash their hands often with soap and clean water, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer;
  • Maintain a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing;
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze;
  • Wash your hands properly with soap and clean water before you tough your eyes, nose or mouth;
  • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention;
  • Follow the directions of your health authority
  • Avoid unneeded visits to medical facilities.

Washing hands with soap and clean water is one of the most effective ways to avoid contracting the virus and preventing its spread according to medical advice. However, while it is essential to practice these preventive measures, there are many less privileged Liberians who cannot afford hand sanitizers and faucet bucket for hand washing, face and nose masks to cover the face. This situation seriously undermines the fight against the virus.

Citizens response to the fight against COVID-19

People welcome the state of emergency because it is aimed at combating and winning the war against the deadly COVID-19; however, Liberia is one of the poorest nations with the majority of its citizens being food insecure, they feed on one meal per day; in fact, they even have to work daily in order to get the one meal. Many people don’t have capacity to buy and store enough food in their homes during the emergency period; also they don’t have the money to buy the needed items to fight against the virus; consequently, they are finding it difficult to adhere to the government stay home mandate. In the search for food, they are seen jamming up in the streets and marketplaces without the use of nose and face masks and without following the health protocols.

Thousands of people in the Red Light market buying and selling just like a normal time (photo taken on April 15, 2020)

Meet Martin, a Liberian citizen, challenged by COVID-19

Diamonds for Peace Liberia (DFPL)’s coordinator met and spoke with Martin, a 60-year-old man who lives in the Mandingo Quarter in Kakata, Margibi County. Mandingo Quarter is one of the communities in Kakata; it has about 6,000 residents and it is the community where DFPL’s office is located. Martin is married and has 4 children and several grandchildren, and he has a family with 11 members. Martin comes from a poor family background, and he is entrapped in poverty chain. Martin is a half-educated man who dropped out from school in the late 1970s after completing 5th grade.

He has no specialized skills; he depends on daily contracts to feed his family. Some of the contract works he does daily range from digging of wells and septic tank, cutting grass and many other kinds of unskilled labor that he is able to get daily in order to find his family daily bread. Martin says his average monthly income is 10,000 Liberian Dollar (about 50 USD), and as such his family is only able to get one meal per day, and sometimes the family goes without food for a whole day.

DFPL’s coordinator conducts an interview with Martin (right), a less privileged man in the Mandingo Quarter

His wife is an illiterate woman. She helps him sometimes when she finds a contract like cutting grass and other jobs that she can do. Sometimes, she buys and sells vegetables and other food items in the community to buttress her husband’s efforts.

Martin can hardly afford to pay for his children’s education, something he said worries him a lot because educating his children is his biggest dream. He is trying to prevent his children from continuing in the poverty chain, but this is a serious challenge for him given that his income is very low and not stable.

His children

Their first child is a boy, now 36, is now on his own finding his daily bread and taking care of himself; however, he is still in the 9th grade. The second is a girl, she is now 26 years old, but she has never been to school. This is because the family cannot afford the fees for all the children, and since she is a girl child, they think she must stay home to help her mother with the domestic works. The third is a boy; he is now 16 and in the 7th grade. The fourth is also a boy; he is now 5 years old and in the kindergarten.

Martin, his 26 years old daughter and 5 years old son along with his grandchildren post for a family picture at their home in Mandingo Quarter.

Life in the midst of COVID-19

Like many other families in Mandingo Quarter in Kakata and Liberia as a whole, this family is strangulated by the invasion of COVID-19 against humanity. The fight against the virus has led to the government’s declaration of a state of emergency and a lockdown, prohibiting people’s movement. With this situation, Martin cannot go out in search of contract; his family is now left to depend on arms from neighbors and friends, and sometimes starve. Even if there were means to go out during this time of COVID-19, people prefer to save the little they have for their own families, because no one knows when this crisis would be over.

View of Martin’s family home in Mandingo Quarter

The fight against COVID-19 is everybody’s business; therefore, people need to fight collectively in order to win the war against the virus. To do this every family and person needs to be involved and act responsibly by carefully observing all the health protocols. However, as it stands in Liberia, not everyone can follow the safety measures because there are many families that cannot afford to pay for the essential items needed to fight the virus. If we must all fight to ensure the virus is defeated, then less privileged families need to be supported with food items that will facilitate their stay home; faucet buckets, soap and hand sanitizers to be used in and outside their homes for the constant washing of hands; face and nose masks to be worn if they must go out inevitably. Thousands of people risk contracting the virus if these conditions are not addressed.

With your support of 25USD, we can distribute a hygiene kit for a household with an average of 8 members.

If you are a resident or a company in the U.S., you can make a tax deductible donation by donating us through Empowerment Works, our fiscal sponsor in the U.S. Please click here to do so.

 

[COVID-19 Donation Form if you are a resident/company OUTSIDE U.S.A.]

If you live anywhere outside U.S.A., please enter the information in the form below to make a donation. We will email you a Paypal invoice later.

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Non profit organization law in Japan requires us to make a list of contributors with their address.

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A copy of the form will be sent to your email automatically. Please check the spam box if you don’t receive it in your mailbox. If you have a problem submitting the form, please contact us via email to: info[at]diamondsforpeace.org

Thank you very much for your support! We truly appreciate!

———————

[1] World Health Organization, 2016 “Health Workforce Requirements for Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals”

[2] Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism in Liberia http://www.micat.gov.lr/ 

[3] The World Bank https://data.worldbank.org/country/liberia

[4] The New York Times, April 2020 “10 African Countries Have No Ventilators. That’s Only Part of the Problem.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/world/africa/africa-coronavirus-ventilators.html

[5] Jonathan Corum and Carl Zimmer, The New York Times, April 30th 2020, “How Coronavirus Mutates and Spreads” https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/30/science/coronavirus-mutations.html

[6] Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, COVID-19 (written in Japanese) https://www.covid19-yamanaka.com/cont4/32.html

 

All photos taken by Diamonds for Peace Liberia

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