Sierra Leone will auction one of the world’s largest diamonds to fund development projects in the impoverished community where it was found.
The 709-carat gem, named the “peace diamond”, was found in the eastern Kono region in March by a Christian pastor who handed it over to the West African country’s government to sell.
More than 50 percent of the proceeds will directly fund clean water, electricity, schools, medical facilities, roads, and more in Sierra Leone, particularly in the village of Koryardu where the diamond was found.
Diamonds fueled a decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, ending in 2002, in which rebels forced civilians to mine the stones and bought weapons with the proceeds, leading to the term ‘blood diamonds’.
The United Nations lifted a ban on diamond exports from Sierra Leone in 2003, but the multi-million dollar sector is still plagued by smuggling.