DDI launches Maendeleo Diamond Standards

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 DDI launches Maendeleo Diamond StandardsThe Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), an organization dedicated to improving the working conditions and lives of artisanal diamond miners, launched the Maendeleo Diamond Standards (MDS), which would ensure respect for human rights, for the environment and for community well-being.

Workers at 14 remote mining sites in the diamond-rich Koidu district of Sierra Leone have been trained on the standards and 13 of the sites have now been certified MDS-compliant based on a third-party audit. This implies the diamonds mined at these sites are responsibly and ethically sourced, and will begin to respond to the growing demand for ethical products from consumers.

Maendeleo, the Swahili word for development and progress, is a fitting designation for standards, according to Dorothée Gizenga, Executive Director. “Artisanal diamond mining, carried out informally with rudimentary tools, is a risky business in many ways. Historically the people who do the hardest work live in poverty and have been subject to exploitation and violence. These standards are an important step in protecting the miners, regulating the sector and producing diamonds that the jewelry industry can be proud to pass along to consumers.”

“Establishing global standards for the artisanal mining industry helps ensure safe working conditions,” said Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chairman and president of The Tiffany Co. Foundation. “The Maendeleo Diamond Standards represent DDI’s expansive, long-term approach to improving the lives of miners, their families and communities.” Ian Smillie, Chair of the DDI Board, noted that the Maendeleo Diamond Standards is the only model existing in the artisanal diamond sector and that it is an effective complement to the Kimberley Process (KP). “MDS takes the work of the KP one step further, says Smillie. Based on the results of DDI’s work in Sierra Leone, Ainsley Butler, MDS Program Director, says DDI intends to roll out the system to other regions, beginning with the DR Congo. “This process is feasible, scalable and replicable,” she says. “This is effective development.”



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