Factors Affecting Sand Harvesting in Machakos County, Kenya
Sand harvesting is practiced in Kenya as an economic activity and is occasioned by a variety of factors. The practice has both positive and negative impacts to livelihoods. It is the negative impacts that occur due to unsustainable methods of sand harvesting that informed this study. Unsustainable scooping methods of this resource have caused soil erosion characterized by deep gullies on both river beds and arable land. The activities have also led to loss of water for livestock and domestic use and rise in crime in most cases. There is need to regulate sand harvesting to guarantee its sustainable use and mitigate its negative impacts. This study sought to analyze the factors leading to increased sand harvesting in Machakos County with a view to regulating the harvesting activities and ensure sustainability. The objectives of the study were to assess the impacts of increased sand harvesting in Machakos County, assess the existing policy, legal and institutional frameworks on sand harvesting in the County and assess strategies used to sustainably manage sand harvesting activities in the County. This study was done in Kathiani, Mwala and Machakos Town Constituencies where sand harvesting is prevalent. Qualitative research design of a descriptive nature was used to get a relatively profound appreciation of sand harvesting through firsthand experience and proper reporting. The sampling frame comprised 81 respondents drawn equitably from three spatial clusters where sand harvesting was prevalent. The clusters included the geographical constituencies of Mwala, Kathiani and Machakos town. From the three clusters, 20 respondents were equitably selected on snow ball basis and were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Key opinion leaders selected from the local community were engaged through focused group discussions to complement the opinions of the respondents. Data collected during the study was recorded on Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and analysed using the G-test of independence. Key findings included that sand harvesting was occasioned by several factors such as demand from the construction industry and the high number of farmers, weak enforcement of laws and regulations, weak institutions and corruption among the institutions and people entrusted with providing leadership. There were very few sand harvesting organized xiii groups. Other findings showed that sand harvesting led to loss of arable land and vegetation, landslides and degradation of river banks. Key recommendations included restriction of hours of the day when sand harvesting could be allowed (daytime only), enactment of specific regulations on sand harvesting, promotion of commercial packaging of legally harvested sand, sensitization of the public on the existing laws and regulations, re use and recycling of sand, intensification of environmental inspections for purposes of ensuring compliance and construction of sand gabions and dams along the threatened river beds where sand harvesting is practised.
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