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Diamonds, long seen as symbols of love and prosperity, are now blamed for war and corruption in some of the poorest places on earth. A recent UN report suggests that the diamond industry -- worth more than $8 billion per year -- may still be fuelling conflict in parts of West Africa (60% of global diamond output comes from Africa), and Western governments are increasingly worried that diamonds are being used to launder money for international criminals and terrorists. But the diamond industry has taken major steps to open up their business and put the squeeze on illegal trade, most notably through the Kimberley Process, which certifies that a diamond has been obtained legitimately. In this CGD Note program associate Kaysie Brown and senior fellow Todd Moss consider the strengths and limitations of industry efforts to break the deadly link between diamonds and conflict and offer consumers tips on how to buy conflict-free diamonds. Bottom line: the Kimberley Process, which has helped turn conflict diamonds into development diamonds, is a good thing but it could be even better. And diamonds must be seen as just one of many steps along the road to growth and poverty reduction.
Despite improvements in censuses and household surveys, the building blocks of national statistical systems in sub-Saharan Africa remain weak. Measurement of fundamentals such as births and deaths, growth and poverty, taxes and trade, land and the environment, and sickness, schooling, and safety is shaky at best. The Data for African Development Working Group’s recommendations for reaping the benefits of a data revolution in Africa fall into three categories: (1) fund more and fund differently, (2) build institutions that can produce accurate, unbiased data, and (3) prioritize the core attributes of data building blocks.