The Socio-Economic Effects Of Sand Harvesting In River Thwake, Kathiani Division, Machakos County, Kenya.
Sand is a natural resource that exists at valley bottoms of rivers and one of its uses is provision of raw material for construction. The building of homes, institutions and towns require the use of sand at varying quantities. This result in sand harvesting at increasing rates at the seasonal river bottoms which traverse the rural areas. Sand harvesting is one of the serious environmental problems around the globe in the recent years. Sand harvesting activities reduce land socio-economic value by causing land degradation, loss of agricultural lands, low availability of water and of low quality and loss of biodiversity as well as increased poverty among people in the area. To address these problems NEMA has come up with sand harvesting guidelines which need to be enforced. The main objective of the study was to assess the socio-economic effects of sand harvesting in Kathiani Division. The specific objectives were to determine how sand harvesting activities have contributed to job creation in Kathiani Division; to find out the extent to which sand harvesting activities have improved living conditions among the people living in Kathiani Division; to determine whether sand harvesting activities have affected education among the children; to determine how sand harvesting activities have affected accessibility of better health services among people living in Kathiani Division. The research study adopted descriptive research design and targeted a population of 236 sand harvesting stakeholders in Kathiani Division. A sample size of 121 stakeholders was used for the study. Secondary data source were basically through desk reviews of existing literature on sand harvesting and scholarly internet sources. Primary data was gathered directly from the stakeholders using structured open-ended questionnaire, observation and photographs. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Descriptive statistics such as frequency distribution and percentages were used to describe data. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) aided the analysis of the data collected. Inferential statistics, chi-square was used to test the null hypotheses. From the findings, the study found out that sand harvesting activities have significantly contributed to job creation in Kathiani Division. The study further found out sand harvesting activities have significantly improved living conditions among people living in Kathiani Division; sand harvesting activities have significantly affected education among people living in Kathiani Division. It finally found out that sand harvesting activities have significantly affected accessibility of better health services among the people living in Kathiani Division. The results indicate that sand harvesting earnings are inadequate in the sense that the families cannot afford textbooks and learning materials of their children. Families cannot access better medical services from the income realized from sand harvesting activities. The study recommended that NEMA Social Impact Assessment (SIA) need to be carried out to optimize positive and mitigate negative effects of sand harvesting in Kathiani Division.