The Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) aims to find sustainable methods of ensuring that diamonds are mined and distributed for the benefit of local communities and local governments. Unlike the more traditional, or formal, mines found in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, small-scale informal alluvial diamond digging (also known as artisanal diamond digging) is usually undertaken by individuals, families or groups using very basic equipment to extract diamonds.

Most artisanal digging takes place around areas of alluvial deposits (deposits of sand, gravel and clay, which have been naturally transported by water erosion and deposited along either the banks of a river, the shoreline or on the bed of the ocean). There are a number of issues concerning the working conditions of small-scale informal diamond diggers. Among these are the unhealthy, unregulated and sometimes dangerous environments in which diggers work, together with the fact that the majority of diggers do not know the true value of rough diamonds and are therefore vulnerable to exploitation. In many cases the workers have no other option for employment and support a whole family on the substance wage given. The situation alluvial miners face today reflect the fundamental challenges of extreme poverty and a lack of basic infrastructure, education and healthcare in previously war-torn countries.

Founded through partnerships with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the diamond industry, the DDI seeks to improve conditions and systems for artisanal alluvial digging and build on the foundations established by the Kimberley Process. Its aim is to develop an understanding of the issues and implement pilot projects in local small-scale informal alluvial diamond digging communities to address concerns e.g. working conditions, fair-pricing and formalization.

Together with other similar programs such as the Mwadui Community Diamond Partnership, the Peace Diamond Alliance, Diamonds for Development and the Communities and Small Scale Mining project of the World Bank, a real and lasting difference can be made to the approximately one million individuals and their dependents who make their living in the artisanal mining sector.