Since October 2014, the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI)* has acted as the focal point for Technical Assistance within the Kimberley Process’ Administrative Support Mechanism, created and hosted by the World Diamond Council. To better understand this role, Rubel & Ménasché spoke to Dorothée Gizenga, DDI’s Executive Director, and Marika Escaravage, Communications Manager and contact for KP Technical Assistance. In this joint interview, we discussed Technical Assistance, DDI’s aims and the added value that it can provide in this role. We also took this opportunity to get the latest news on the DDI’s Ebola response in Sierra Leone.
DDI has been the focal point for Technical Assistance within the Kimberley Process since October 6th 2014. Can you explain what this entails?
We define our role as that of establishing a bridge between those who wish to receive technical assistance and those who can provide it. We study the annual reports submitted by different countries and the reports following review visits. In addition, we have taken the time to get in touch with the different players to see what technical assistance can be provided. The important thing is to identify who needs what help. We have created a form—which will be available on the Kimberley Process website—that helps countries to more clearly express their needs.
Could you give us an example of the kind of help or technical assistance that you can actually provide?
It is not DDI that provides help directly. We act as a facilitator between those who need help and those who know how to give it. Countries can ask for assistance to carry out geological surveys, or to learn how to valuate rough diamonds, for example. Before we took on this role, the Technical Assistance function was very passive. Our first step was to enable countries to make an explicit request. Once they have asked for assistance, we endeavour to 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 the financial resources necessary to get projects off the ground.
What challenges do you face in your role for the Kimberley Process?
The countries that have generously offered technical assistance to this day, have done so in a spontaneous and Ad hoc manner. Their response has been very helpful to those who received assistance. We would like to see member countries to plan and integrate Technical Assistance into KP participation on ongoing basis, and see demand meet supply in a timely and effective manner.
What solutions have you found to counter the challenges and problems that you face in performing your role?
Well, we are trying to innovate to better meet needs. Often the assisting organization will provide 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, so we are looking at technological solutions to address this problem.
We hope to put in place webinars, training videos, and to bring together the existing written resources from a variety of sources. Our plan is to use simple technology to make the assistance accessible and sustainable over time.
What added value can DDI bring to the Kimberley Process?
In terms of Technical Assistance, we are able to take part in the creation of tools and not just broker one-time assistance for member countries. As a multi-sectorial international NGO, we have a great capacity to find and share resources. We have contacts in government, industry and civil society, we are very familiar with the field and we are used to organizing training programs.
And what does DDI get out of being the focal point for Technical Assistance for the Kimberley Process?
It allows us to better understand the needs and the difficulties that the application of the Kimberley Process poses to KP member countries. Where those problems are developmental in nature, we can also offer solutions.
What role does Signet Jewelers play in this shared adventure?
They are the funders of our involvement as the KP Technical Assistance focal point. But, their value goes beyond financial assistance. They know the industry, the supply chain, marketing and sales, We are thinking, for example, about involving them in the development of relevant educational tools for KP members.
And more generally, for you, at DDI, what are you up to in the field? Is your message getting through?
Yes. We have made progress in 7 years of operations. We wanted to emphasize the notion of development; people are starting to understand our approach toward artisanal miners. 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 and of governments.
Can you tell us about your 3-S approach to fighting Ebola?
The 3-S approach stands for Sensitization, Support and Safeguards. We put this program in place in December 2014 with financing from De Beers and the German Agency for International Development (GIZ). It operates in remote artisanal mining communities in Sierra Leone. Communities in which support has been scarce. We took the initiative to work with local groups and governments to raise awareness and to help provide food and hygiene items. Food prices have become a big 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 the gains we’ve made. We’ve asked ourselves and others: after the crisis is over, what systems do we need to put in place to stop such widespread devastation from happening again? What do other affected countries, other mining countries do?
As an organization created to help artisanal miners, we thought it was very important to show them that we had not abandoned them.
When the Ebola virus broke out, there was a loss of control over diamond production. When we return to our projects in this area after the crisis, people will listen more carefully because we were there, at a critical time. 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.
*DDI supports and encourages the implementation of projects and policies that improve working and living conditions for artisanal miners and their communities.
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.