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Diamonds and Kono

Diamonds and Kono

Sierra Leone diamonds were discovered in the Kono district in 1930, when a small geological survey team led by British colonial official N.R. Junner and his assistant, J.D.Pollet, picked up a crystal by the Gboraba stream. The team had been examining stream bed gravels for heavy minerals, instead the crystal turned out to be a diamond.

Kono where commercial exploitation of diamond began in Sierra Leone since 1930 has produced billions of dollars worth of diamonds but is still rated as the country’s most poorest district. Koidu being its main city was badly destroyed by the country’s brutal rebel war and its landscape degraded.

Today, Kono can be described as an environmental and social nightmare as it is rated as the most violent crime ridden district in Sierra Leone with armed robbery and murder remaining higher than elsewhere, and rape is epidemic. The district population is estimated close to 400,000 and it has one functional hospital and no paved roads. The health and other necessary infrastructures in Kono stand limited.

The long dysfunctional state of the Koidu government hospital was refurbished by the government. Ironically the facilities are inadequate for the township let alone the whole district. Investigations register 57 in equipped health center in the district and a private hospital owned by Koidu holdings with two medical doctors and 97 maternal and child health nurses, four staff nurses and eight community health officers.

Poverty continues to be the sun name of indigene as youth unemployment, pipe borne drinking water and infrastructural development are the issues any serious government should try by all possible means to address.

Samuel Koroma, a valuator in the Sierra Leone gold and diamond office noted that the export of diamonds has dropped from 603,623 carats in 2007 to 371,285 carats in 2008. He stated that the drop of 30 percent in export is due to the reduction of diamond prices in the world market.

Currently there is a cold war between the government and civil societies on the new mines and mineral act because civil society groups has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that mining companies are influencing the new legislation through the back door.

In Liberia significant progress has been made in their internal diamond control system because the government has invited additional civil society members to sit on the ‘presidential diamond task force’ which is similar to the ‘diamond board.’

In Sierra Leone it is something different as government sees civil societies groups as an enemy as accused and counter accused is now the order of the day. Investigation conducted revealed that indigence of Kono no longer rely on the government for solution as they have eaten their words but now looks forward to civil society groups to lobby the international community to come to their aid.

One may be tempted to ask what has been the intervention of the vice president and the first lady being they originated from Kono district?

The Network Movement for Justice and Development a Sierra Leone civil society Organization who’s vision is to enhance just and self reliant society in the country where Women, Men, Children and communities are concretized and live in dignity without fear and discrimination especially on the grounds of sex, race, faith, socio economic and political status has on several instances criticized government openly for bad policies among other things. Because of these the government has picked the network movement for justice and development as opposition rather than partner in development.

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