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UBC Theses and Dissertations

From poverty and war to prosperity and peace? : sustainable livelihoods and innovation in governance of artisanal diamond mining in Kono District, Sierra Leone Levin, Estelle Agnes


In 2002 Sierra Leone emerged from a brutal war which had lasted for eleven years. The war was made both possible and desirable by the existence of diamonds. In 1999 an American development consultancy firm, Management Systems International (MSI), was invited by USAID to manage its efforts to assist peacebuilding in the country. Since then, MSI has guided 3 projects (the Diamond Policy and Management project, the Peace Diamond Alliance, and the Integrated Diamond Management Model of Resource Governance) which cumulatively are attempting to restructure the political economy of the diamond industry through innovation in resource governance in order to achieve its principle objective, which is to make diamonds work for peace and prosperity for the people of Sierra Leone. This thesis evaluates the Diamond Sector Reform Programme (DSRP) by examining the programme and its object of intervention (the political economy of the industry), and by evaluating its objectives and techniques through an exploration and analysis of the causes of war and poverty in Kono district. The sustainable livelihoods framework was used to guide the research design as well to conduct the poverty analysis. The research's overarching conclusion is that the DSRP is altogether very well conceived and designed in order to meet its objectives and that it is attending to many of the issues which perpetuate poverty and might once again motivate war. The research has also suggested possible obstacles to the success of the DSRP may lie in the inadequate consideration of certain issues, such as the links between the diamond industry's political economy with Kono's wider socio-political landscape, issues surrounding gender, mining and poverty, the infeasibility of desirable livelihood options in diamond mining communities, the homogenisation of the local economy around the diamond industry, and the re-emergence of patronage and patrimonialism as the key systems of social securitisation in an environment of post-conflict recovery.

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