Economic Revival and the End of Mining Blood Diamonds in Sierra Leone
For years the Sierra Leone in western Africa had the image of a state known for its blood diamonds. But, recently, this situation has changed. In the former war-torn region an Israeli company has acquired the rights to mine diamonds. The modern mine is in contrast to the traditional method of digging out diamonds by hand. It is part of a new investment program started by Sierra Leone's government.
The scars of the decade-long conflict are still visible. In the past the area was full of small pits that were controlled by rebel groups. The diamonds that were found there were sold by rebel forces to buy new weapons. Civilians even dug under their houses to find diamonds in the foundations.
The region is still a very backward area, with no paved roads, running water or electricity. But today the place is full of activity as an Israeli billionaire has invested millions in the construction of a new diamond mine. Although diamonds are still dug out by hand in some places it remains a very difficult and hard task. For some people, however, it is the only way to make a living. Despite the investment the unemployment rate in Sierra Leone is still high. The new diamond mine offers at least some jobs to the people who live in the area.
The new mine is not the only new project underway in Sierra Leone. A few years ago the country’s first hydroelectric power plant was finished. But damaged power lines cannot carry all the electricity the new plant can produce.
Sierra Leone’s new economic boom comes at exactly the right time. Hopefully, it will bring more money to the poor government and lead to the building of new homes and roads. It is uncertain how poor people will profit from the new projects. Much larger investment would be necessary to bring them out of poverty.
In a country with a population of six million and a life expectancy of no more than 48 years, Sierra Leone has been relying on exporting farming products like cocoa, coffee and fish. 41% of the people cannot read nor write. Over 50,000 people died in the rebel war that engulfed the region and ended in 2002.
At least the political situation has changed. The rebels have gone and instead, you can see police officers and traders. The image of Sierra Leone as a country that trades diamonds for weapons has finally gone.
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- acquire = get legally
- although = while
- backward = not very modern
- billionaire = a person who has over a thousand million dollars, euros etc..
- blood diamonds = diamonds that come from conflict or war zones and are sold to buy guns and other weapons
- civilian = a person who does not belong to the army or a rebel group
- cocoa = brown powder made from cocoa beans; used to make chocolate
- damage = destroy
- decade-long = something that lasts for about ten years
- despite = something happens even though something else might have prevented it
- dig-dug = to make a hole in the ground
- economic boom = increase in business activity
- engulf = spread over
- forces = soldiers
- former = in the past
- foundation = layer of cement, bricks and stones that is put under a building or house
- government = the people who rule a country
- however = but
- hydroelectric power plant = a building built on a river or in the mountains which produces electricity from flowing water
- in contrast to = different
- instead = in something’s place
- life expectancy = the number of years that a person is expected to live
- make a living = earn money to survive
- mine = deep hole in the ground where you can dig out coal, gold or other minerals
- necessary = needed
- pave = to cover a road with a smooth hard surface
- pit = small hole
- population = the people who live in a country
- poverty = the situation of being poor
- recently = a short time ago
- rely on = depend on
- remain = stay
- running water = water that comes out of a system of pipes
- scar = here: damaged area
- task = job
- trader = a person who buys and sells things at markets
- traditional = old, old-fashioned, not modern
- uncertain =not sure
- underway = in progress, something that has already started
- unemployment rate = the number of people who do not have a job compared with the whole population
- visible = can be seen
- war-torn = a place that has been destroyed by war
- weapon = something that you use to attack an enemy with, like a gun or a bomb