Two hours by dirt road from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s diamond hub Mbuji-Mayi, life is hard for freelance miners.
On the way to Lupatapata, abandoned maize fields attest to a decline of the region’s once thriving agriculture sector.
The town has no major market, no maize depot, just a “mini-market” for diamonds where middle men wait to name their price for the precious stones, standing behind makeshift counters.
“Punters aren’t coming here anymore, money isn’t circulating. Just as the diamond has become rare, everything is difficult here,” said one of the buyers, Jean-Claude Basanabo.
“Food prices have gone up, workers are going unpaid (and) the roads have really deteriorated,” he said.
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