Makueni leaders call for an end to illegal sand harvesting

Makueni County Executive for Water, Irrigation and Environment, Robert Kisyula has called for an inter-county collaboration to deal with sustainable sand harvesting and environmental conservation in order to tackle the challenges of climate change.

Speaking on Wednesday when he met a delegation from Kitui county that is on a three-day tour of Makueni and Kajiado counties to benchmark on sustainable sand harvesting and climate change, Mr. Kisyula noted that concerted efforts between Makueni, Kajiado, Machakos, Kitui and other counties facing sand harvesting menace were necessary to curb the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

As a county, Makueni cannot solve the sand harvesting and environmental degradation single-handedly. We need an inter-county effort to tackle environmental and climate change menace. We can’t succeed without an equal zeal from Kitui, Makueni and Kajiado counties, said Kisyula.

He said sand harvesting cartels which thrive on connections in all levels of government raked in huge sums of money while residents are left facing acute water shortages and environmental degradation.

Kisyula said the solution for water scarcity in arid and semi arid areas was not in sinking boreholes but water harvesting and conservation.

God has endowed us with water under the sand. Our water is seated in the sands on our river beds. We should then not allow our sand to be poached and carted away leaving our people impoverished, he added.

He called for radical approaches on sand, water and environmental conservation, noting that major construction projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway, the Thwake Dam and the Kibwezi-Kitui road were causing massive sand harvesting and degraded river beds through unregulated sand harvesting.

His Kitui counterpart, John Makau extolled the decision by Kitui Governor, Charity Ngilu to ban sand harvesting and charcoal burning in the county to preserve the environment.

Makau noted that Makueni had put a raft of measures to deal with sand harvesting and environmental degradation through legislation, formation of a sand conservation and utilization authority and community based structures, and said Kitui will put in place similar measures.

He said without legal and institutional structures in neighboring counties, unscrupulous sand dealers would still flourish through existing loopholes in the counties.

If under the South Eastern Kenya Economic Block (SEKEB), we develop a strong regional position on sand for water and completely control unregulated sand harvesting, we shall be able to conserve and restore our environment and manage environmental degradation, said Makau.

Source: Kenya News Agency