Since October 2014, the Diamond Development Initiative* has been responsible for providing technical assistance with the Kimberley Process. To better understand this role, Rubel & Ménasché went to meet Dorothée Gizenga, Executive Director of the DDI, and Marika Escaravage Communications Manager and manager of technical assistance with the Kimberley Process. During this joint interview with the two representatives, we take a look at this tangible help, their aims and the added value that DDI can provide. We also take the opportunity to get the latest news on the message borne by the DDI and the singular response that it gave to Ebola in Sierra Leone.
The DDI has been responsible for providing technical assistance with the Kimberley Process since 6 October 2014. Can you explain what this consists of?
We define our role as that of establishing a bridge between the actors and the members who wish to receive technical assistance with the Kimberley Process. We study the annual reports from different countries and the technical reviews provided. But, in particular, we have taken the time to get in touch with the different players to see what technical assistance to provide. For us at the DDI, the important thing is to identify who needs what help. We have prepared a form—which should be available on the Kimberley Process website—so that countries can express their needs.
Could you give us an example of the help or technical assistance that you can actually provide?
It is not the DDI that provides help directly. However, we act as a relay. In real terms, the countries can ask for assistance to carry out biological investigations, to obtain specific information, to assess roughs, etc. Before we took on the responsibility, technical assistance for the Kimberly Process was very passive. We firstly therefore worked to enable countries to make an explicit request. Once they have asked for assistance, we find the best people to help them. But that is where things get complicated: it’s not always easy to find the right people. Or, maybe the help required is hard to put in place for financial reasons.
What challenges do you face in your role for the Kimberley Process?
The countries do not yet have an exclusive answer to our way of working. This is the first time that they have been called upon in advance in this area, by us directly. It’s not at their own pace. Our aim is to get them to take responsibility and to encourage them to plan their actions.
What solutions have you found to answer the challenges and problems that you face in performing your role?
Well, we are trying to innovate to better meet needs. For example, when staff need training and the equipment they need or the training tools are in another country, we have to find new financial solutions. If the training organization provides training free of charge, but the country that needs help does not have the financial means to send its staff to the country where training is given, we need to find technological solutions to resolve this problem.
We are planning to put in place webinars, training videos, and to bring together the existing written resources, etc. Our plan is to use existing technological tools to make the assistance sustainable.
“Our plan is to use existing technological tools to make the assistance sustainable.”
What added value can the DDI bring to the Kimberley Process?
Very clearly, to be able to take part in creating tools and not just offer assistance to the countries. As a multi-sectorial NGO, we have a great capacity to find and share resources. We have contacts in a range of sectors, we are very familiar with the field, we are used to organizing training, etc.
And for you at the DDI, what do you get out of being responsible for technical assistance for the Kimberley Process?
It allows us to better understand the needs of countries, their necessities and the difficulties, in real terms, that the application of the Kimberley Process poses for them.
What role does Signet Jewelers play in this shared adventure?
They are the funders and the sponsors. They know about sales and the industry, their expertise therefore goes beyond financial assistance. We are thinking for example about how they could help us in developing educational aspects.
And more generally, for you, at the DDI, where are you up to with your actions and progress in the field? Is your message getting through?
Yes. We have made progress in 10 years. We wanted to enhance the notion of development; people are starting to understand our actions in favor of diggers. Members of the diamond industry are more sensitive to it. There is a greater investment to help poorer populations. We have got the attention of the diamond industry, the gem producing companies and the associations (Jewelers of America, International Diamond Manufacturers Associations), etc.
Can you tell us about your 3S approach to fighting Ebola, which began in December 2014?
3-S approach: Sensitization, Support and Safeguards. We have put this program in place — with financing from De Beers and the German Agency for International Development (GIZ) received in December last year — in artisanal mining communities (the Nimiyama Chiefdom in the Kono district of Sierra Leone) that, for reasons of geographical accessibility, did not get any assistance in fighting Ebola. We therefore took the responsibility of taking sensitization, information, support in terms of food and hygiene to them. For example, food prices have become a concern for local populations. We are able to buy in bulk, therefore less expensively, and distribute food free of charge.
We also address the question of safeguarding in these terms: after the crisis is over, what do we need to put in place to stop it happening again? What do other affected countries and other gem producing do? To give you an actual example, we would like to install water pumps…
As an organization whose reason for being is to help artisanal miners, we thought it was very important to show them that we had not abandoned them.
When the Ebola virus breaks out, there is no more control over the diamonds. When we will return to our actions in this area, people will listen more carefully because WE were there. We will be able to carry on working and sharing our approach: transforming the artisanal sector step by step so that artisanal miners are able to care for themselves.
* The DDI supports and encourages the implementation and defense of projects or policies to improve working and living conditions for artisanal miners.
Signet Jewelers grant to fund KP function
DDI to manage Kimberley Process technical assistance
Dorothée Gizenga – “Conflict diamonds started in artisanal diamond mining fields”
Picture ©DDI : The director of the DDI taking part in a KP review visit and in support and awareness-raising activities as part of the 3-S project.