The USAID Mining Artisan Property Rights project (USAID AMPR) (known in French as Droits de Propriété Artisanal Minier – DPAM) is mandated by its Year I Work Plan to prepare a communication and outreach strategy. This strategy is largely based on a situational assessment and analysis of factors contributing to diamond fraud and smuggling that was carried out by the project in Bangui and Boda in April and May 2019.
The preparation of the communication strategy was based on a literature review of PRADD II and II, the results of the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) 2019 survey of AMPR and interviews and exchanges with various stakeholders (158 people) in Bangui and Boda in April and May 2019. In analyzing the results of the KAP survey, the lack of control of the chain of custody by the government mining authorities appears to favor the illegal export of minerals. For example, according to the survey data, 2% (n = 341) of respondents say they know someone who has traveled to Cameroon to sell their production in 2019 while 3% (n = 341) say they know someone who sold a stone to someone from Cameroon in 2019.
Many informal taxation practices contribute to fraud and smuggling. Three quarters of the respondents of the KAP survey say they pay off village chiefs after diamonds are extracted, while half of the respondents do so with a state authority namely, by order of priority, the municipal council (communes), followed by USAF and the mining administration. However, during the exchanges in Bangui and Boda, 24% of respondents consider that it is easier to find satisfactory solutions to illegal taxation (in particular theft of diamonds which reduces the incomes of artisanal miners and collectors) than at the national and even less so in the international sphere. The same proportion say they look forward to enforcement by the State of the legal texts governing mining companies, in order to put an end to the opacity which characterizes these commercial relations and especially since social tensions are caused by this illegal taxation.
- Based on the following three criteria – feasibility, realism and duration of the USAID AMPR project – this study presents the following observations:
- Of the seven factors favoring fraud and smuggling, only one, that is, the exactions levied on the income of diamond operators is possible to resolve by local actors. All others are related to the statutory and institutional environment.
- Local causes of fraud and smuggling can be dealt with locally and with the most chances of success.
- Most difficult cases to resolve are those where decision-making centers are at the national level and mostly at the international level.
- On the part of those surveyed, there is a real willingness to strengthen the chain of custody of the diamond sector, if it is supported by the USAID AMPR project, the government and its partners.
- In parallel with measures to improve the enforcement of the statutory framework, the USAID AMPR project should focus more on local factors contributing to fraud and smuggling in order to attract the support of key players in the diamond sector.
- Results of well-designed and participatory interventions at the local level can inform advocacy and inquiry at the national and international levels and foster profound institutional change.
The review and analysis of communication practices proposed by key players in the diamond sector highlight the following:
- Importance of knowing about the employment patterns, dynamics of social cohesion, livelihoods, economic diversification, types of collaborative partnerships, and recreational practices in diamond mining communities.
- Predominance of Sango as the language of communication between mining artisans and collectors as well as the administration. French and other local languages come second as the language of communication.
- Closed-loop communication structures exists among artisanal miners. They inform each other, share the same values, influence questionable practices (how to cheat around diamond sales, steal from bosses, display conspicuous consumption, display wealth) rather than respect the law and the use of diamond revenues for productive investments.
- Communication channels of various types are of interest to artisanal miners (for example, posters, theater, megaphone, telephone, palaver at the markets), but with a preference for using printed cartoon-like messaging.
- Diamond miners and collectors communicate frequently around mutual interests (e.g.: site visits, advances for the purchase of equipment and food rations, fuel, management of conflicts of interest). They also have other interlocutors: the agents of the technical services of the Ministry of Mines and Geology and those of the USAF and, during an electoral period, the politicians.
- Lack of strong internet connections and the inaccessibility of national radio or even some local radios present major limitations to effective mass communications. These limitations could significantly limit AMPR’s use of mass media and social networks at the local level.
- Main communication challenges faced by the AMPR project are not around the need to inform or sensitize actors about the regulatory provisions governing their mining sector (they usually know them) but rather to reduce the distrust between actors in the diamond value chain through creating or reinvigorating various consultative spaces.
- Partnerships must be constructed between government structures, NGOs and development organizations to promote denunciations and arrests around smuggling and fraud.
The information needs of the artisanal mining community pertain primarily to generating a better knowledge of the content of the agreements signed between the State and the mining companies in order to reduce conflicts between these actors. The information needs also concern the advantages of participating in the Kimberley Process and the Operational Framework, information about the AMPR project itself or other similar projects (World Bank, European Union), a better knowledge of the roles and attributions of the local Kimberley Process Monitoring Committee, and access to AMPR products and services.
In terms of skills and perception, we note:
- Distrust of local government officials vis-à-vis the personnel of the Ministry of Mines and Geology who are considered defenders of collectors and employees of Buying Houses and who benefit from their largesse.
- Beliefs that the Kimberley Process is at the service of an international conspiracy against the Central African Republic.
- Questions about the real motivations of the United States, with respect to the financing they give to the artisanal diamond sector.
In terms of consultations, many of the crises, sometimes violent, observed in the mining sector originate from:
- Lack of space for collective debate on the issues facing the diamond sector.
- Lack of dialogue between rural populations involved in diamond mining and mining companies on the one hand and mining companies and local authorities on the other.
- Lack of skills of civil society and the Kimberley Process Local Monitoring Committee to address the obligations of the Operational Framework.
- Insufficient consultation between the actors, particularly between the administration and the Buying Houses (for example, the cumbersome and slow KP procedures and the provisions on the repatriation of profits made through mining occurring in the Central African Republic but to external financiers).
- Feelings of marginalization by the diamond operators with regards to decisions made for them by the public authorities.
- Absence of institutional memory, as for example, when a government official fails to show up for a meeting or is seconded to another office, this creates paralysis within the Kimberley Process Monitoring Committee.
The purpose and objectives of the USAID AMPR project from October 2019 to September 2013 at the closure of the project stem from the above observations and shape the communication strategy.
Contribute to the total lifting of the suspension of CAR’s rough diamond exports, represented by the restrictions of the Operational Framework so that the country regains its pre-crisis rank.
Promote peace and economic resilience of communities in support of the reestablishment of the legal rough diamond chain.
- Increase the perception of the actors of the sector of the risks they run, and the losses suffered by the country due to the persistence of fraud and smuggling.
- Increase the demand for AMPR products and services by communities to improve their livelihoods.
- Encourage policymakers to meet their obligations to the KP Operational Framework.
- Promote a culture of non-violence and social cohesion within communities and at the national level.
- Involve local communities in monitoring the chain of custody in order to fight fraud and smuggling.
- Promote cooperation between all stakeholders in the legislation, operation and marketing of rough diamonds at the local, regional and national levels.