Environment Protection Activities in Liberia from 2021- early 2022


Diamonds for Peace (DFP) is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to transform the diamond industry. We envision a world where diamonds are mined and manufactured with respect for people and the planet. DFP currently works with artisanal diamond miners, diggers and other community members in Weasua, Liberia to improve their livelihoods while simultaneously protecting the environment.

Key Community Issues

In our work, we have found that artisanal miners are often not conscious of the ways in which their work might be harming the environment and the health of their communities. Additionally, community members are often not aware of the importance of good sanitation practices. The following key issues were identified by DFP staff in collaboration with Weasua community members and have served as the basis for DFP’s community activities.

  • Abandoned Mining Holes: In Weasua, artisanal diamond miners dig holes which are then abandoned after their mining activities. The holes filled with water are left uncovered. These holes become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Additionally, people and animals get trapped and injured by falling into the uncovered holes.
  • Deforestation: Residents cut down trees for mining activities, but the forest cover is not restored once mining activities in the area cease. Residents are not aware of the benefits associated with preserving the forest, and they do not have the resources or the technical capacity to reforest these areas.
  • Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH): The residents in Weasua lack public toilet facilities, and as a result, open defecation in rivers and fields is widely practiced. Garbage is also disposed of in rivers. River water is used for washing, cooking, bathing and for some, drinking. These practices contribute to significant community health issues. It has been observed that the residents have a very poor waste management mentality; the community residents don’t handle their waste properly, they throw their wastes in the rivers and around the community and garbage are left scattered all over the place, and there is proliferation of individual dumping sites everywhere in the community. Some of these dumping sites are very close the residents’ homes and near water sources, which create many health problems such as diarrheal diseases, malaria, and typhoid.

One of the major dumping sites

One of the major water sources for community residents

Our Approach

DFP’s approach is to educate community members on these issues and work with them to develop community action plans through interactive trainings, collaborative mapping exercises and community meetings. The community action plans are developed at the conclusion of each of our activities and are owned and managed by the community members.

The following sections of this article contain an overview of three of DFP’s activities from 2021-early 2022 including the resulting community action plans.

ACTIVITY 1: Basic Environmental Protection Training, August 2021

DFP conducted a basic environmental protection training for the residents of Weasua. The training brought together 37 people from different community groups (cooperative, women groups, diggers’ association, community leaders, businesspersons, diamond brokers and other members of the community). The training focused on the topics of global warming, WASH, and deforestation.

Global Warming:

The word global warming is something many of the participants had not heard before this training. Some participants had heard the term before but didn’t know the meaning prior to the training.


DFP facilitators explained that
1) if garbage is not disposed of properly, it attracts flies, mites, other insects and animals that transmit diseases to humans,
2) when rainwater gets inside garbage and turns it into sewage, this contaminates surrounding groundwater and rivers,
3) when people dump soapy water after washing dishes and clothes, open defecate, the soapy water, urine and feces soak into the soil, which gradually contaminates surrounding groundwater and rivers, and
4) mercury use by gold miners contaminates water and the living creatures in it and makes the water unsafe for human use.


The importance of preserving the forest is something participants knew little or nothing about prior to the training. The facilitators explained that the forest produces oxygen and sequesters carbon. Participants also learned that it is important to preserve the forest because wild animals and bees live there. The participants readily understood the ecosystem services provided by the forest.

Community Action Plan

For many of the participants it was their first time learning about these topics. Participants realized that their daily activities are polluting their groundwater and rivers, which has an adverse effect on their health.  Participants also identified several benefits of healthy forests such as the prevention of soil erosion, the provision of wood for furniture, the production of fruits, and the provision of animal habitats. The participants promised to work together to ensure that their environment is well taken care of and put laws in place that help in the process of preservation the remaining forest. The participants drafted the following action points as a recommendation for future consideration:

  • Residents should start moving from upland farming towards lowland farming to preserve the forest.
  • Set up regulations to control the cutting down of trees for the purpose of burning coal. Encourage the growing of trees which can be used for the purpose of charcoal burning.
  • Appoint an inspector who will oversee monitoring and enforcing environmental regulations set up by the community.
  • Make a law that compels all miners and diggers to refill the mining holes after digging.
  • Identify general dumping sites for waste disposure.
  • Make a law that mandates every household to keep its surrounding clean and only throw their garbage at the identified dumping sites.
  • Make a law that every household will have a toilet facility in order to stop open defecation.
  • The community should be encouraged to drink from the pumps and not the river because the river is not so safe for drinking.
  • Set up a cleaning up campaign day for every month. 
Training participants
Participants for the Basic Environmental Protection Training

ACTIVITY 2: Community Assembly Meeting, December 2021

DFP conducted a community assembly meeting in December 2021 to facilitate community actions to live an environmentally friendly life. In the meeting, DFP shared the results of two mapping exercises and of a water quality test.

Mapping of abandoned mines:

There are roughly over 50 abandoned mines in Weasua according to the community stakeholders. DFP along with some cooperative members mapped 20 of the abandoned mines around Weasua Town using the GPS in October 2021. This mapping exercise was intended to record how many abandoned mines are in the community, and how much of the land the miners have degraded through mining activities. It was also intended to show how much danger the proliferation of abandoned mines is posing with the many open pits. The open pits lead to death or injury for both human and animals and serve as breeding pools for malaria carrying mosquitos.

Mapping of dumping sites, open defecation spots, and water sources:

Because there are no community designated dumping sites or public toilet facilities in the community, there is a proliferation of dumping spots and open defecation spots throughout the community. Some of these spots are very close to the residents’ homes and water sources and attract germ carrying agents (flies, cockroach, and other insects). In order to raise awareness on these issues, DFP’s staff and the cooperative members toured the community and mapped 12 major dumping spots, 10 major open defecation spots, and 7 major water sources to show the location of various spots and how close they are to the residents’ homes and water sources.

Mapping result
Mapping of major water sources, dumping sites and open defecation spots in Weasua Town. [Legend] WS: Water Source, DMP: Dumping site, ODF: Open Defecation spot

Water quality test:

The residents needed to know the quality of the waters they were using for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and other domestic purposes. They needed to know whether these waters are safe for consumption to take actions to protect and treat their waters hygienically. For this exercise, the team collected water samples from different sources which included the nearby river, near garbage water, mining pit water, rainwater, bottled mineral water (Aqua life), locally produced sachet mineral water (Africa Life) and water from 3 of the community hand pumps (pump 1, 2 and 3). The team conducted the testing exercise using the COD testing kit. The tests showed that the near garbage water was highly contaminated among the other waters, it had a contamination level of 100; the river and mining pit waters were also contaminated with a contamination level of 13. The Aqua Life, bottle mineral water and the water from the community hand pump 3 had contamination levels of 0-5, while the rest of the waters had contamination levels of 5. The results showed how close dumping and open defecation spots are to the water sources.

Community Assembly Discussion

Participants brainstorm the environmental issues and develop action plan to solve the issues, looking at the mapping results.

Following DFP’s explanation of the different environmental issues, the community residents were divided into small groups to discuss what they think are the effects of the environmental issues they are facing and come up with what they can do as a community to solve the issues. Residents identified the following problems stemming from poor environmental management:

  • Different health problems as the result of poor waste management, open defecation and leaving abandoned pits uncovered.
  • Land degradation as the result of failing to reclaim abandoned mines. People cannot practice farming on the abandoned mining land.
  • The forest is important because we get oxygen from it, the trees are used for furniture, charcoal and construction purposes; therefore, if the forest trees are cut down without any effort to regrow the trees, all these facilities will be lost.

Community Action Plan 

The community residents developed and agreed to the following action plan:

  • Identify general dumping sites and mandate all community residents to keep their surroundings clean and only use the identified sites for their waste disposal.
  • Set up a day for a monthly clean-up exercise and mandate all community residents’ participation.
  • Make a law that every household will have a toilet facility in order to stop open defecation.
  • Community residents should start moving from upland farming towards lowland farming as a local way of preserving the forest.
  • Set up regulations to control the cutting down of trees for the purpose of burning coal. Encourage the growing of trees which can be used for the purpose of charcoal burning.
  • Make a law that compels all miners and diggers to refill the mining holes after digging.
  • Set a hygiene promotion committee to monitor, regulate and ensure the local policies on hygiene promotion are upheld.
  • Appoint an inspector who will oversee monitoring and enforcing environmental regulations set up by the community.

Consistent with this action plan, the community set up the structure of the hygiene promotion committee and elected the chairperson, the co-chairperson and the secretary. The structure of the committee consists of chairperson, co-chairperson, secretary, inspector, advisor, and two members.

Participants after the Community Assembly Meeting
Participants after the Community Assembly Meeting

ACTIVITY 3: Garbage collection exercise, February 2022

DFP’s staff in collaboration with the hygiene promotion committee led community members in a garbage collection exercise. Participants worked with the facilitators to classify the different garbage (metal, cans, plastic bottles, other plastics, other garbage etc.) and put them in different garbage bags. The reason for the classification of garbage was for the community dwellers to see the different kind of garbage they have and what they could do with each type of garbage.

After collecting the garbage and before disposing of it, DFP’s team facilitated a small discussion with the community residents to discuss the kind of garbage they found during the collection exercise and what they wanted to do with them. During the discussion, the residents found that most of the garbage they collected were plastic bags, plastic bottles and cans. They discussed and agreed that the collected garbage should be taken to a designated site and burned. Following the discussion, the collected garbage was taken to a designated site.

Community Action Plan 

Participants learned that a clean community promotes healthy living, and the healthier the people are, the happier they will become. Good health promotes community development because the community residents will be able to avoid spending on medical bills and they will save money for education, food, and other needs and wants. Participants agreed that it is important that community members clean their surroundings and practice good waste management and hygienic practices for healthy living.

Participants agreed that going forward they will collect the plastic bottles, cans and plastic bags and sell them to recyclers. They will use the funds from the sales to promote proper hygiene practices in the community.

Community residents discuss the different kind of garbage and what they want to do with them
Community residents discuss the different kind of garbage and what they want to do with them.

Way Forward

Diamonds for Peace has started a new project in April 2022 “Project for establishing a model balancing the environmental protection and income enhancement in the artisanal diamond mining communities in Liberia” to build on the activities described in this article.

In the new project, we will not only raise the beneficiary’s environmental awareness and improve their practices but also introduce agroforestry with organic farming, efficient exploration and artisanal diamond mining, and reclamation method so that the beneficiary can have economic benefits at the same time protecting the environment.


Front photo: DFP’s staff and the community residents post for photo after collecting garbage, February 2022 © Diamonds for Peace