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Diamond mining, rice farming, and a ‘Maggi cube’: a viable survivial strategy in rural Liberia?

By Gavin Hilson and Steven van Bockstael

Abstract

Since the conclusion of its 14-year civil war in 2003, Liberia has struggled economically. Jobs are in short supply and operational infrastructural services, such as electricity and running water, are virtually nonexistent. The situation has proved especially challenging for the scores of people who fled the country in the 1990s to escape the violence and who have since returned to re-enter their lives. With few economic prospects on hand, many have elected to enter the artisanal diamond mining sector, which has earned notoriety for perpetuating the country's civil war. This article critically reflects on the fate of these Liberians, many of whom, because of a lack of government support, finances, manpower and technological resources, have forged deals with hired labourers to work artisanal diamond fields. Specifically, in exchange for meals containing locally grown rice and a Maggi (soup) cube, hired hands mine diamondiferous territories, splitting the revenues accrued from the sales of recovered stones amongst themselves and the individual ‘claimholder’ who hired them. Although this cycle—referred to here as ‘diamond mining, rice farming and a Maggi cube’—helps to buffer against poverty, few of the parties involved will ever progress beyond a subsistence leve

Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:24916
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