Makueni Executive calls for inter-county cooperation in tackling sand harvesting menace

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BY MUNYASYA MUSYA

Makueni, January 17, 2017, Kitui Governor’s Press: Makueni County Executive for Water, Irrigation, Natural Resources, Environmentand Climate Change Managrment Mr Robert Kisyula has called for an inter-county synergy to deal with sustainable sand harvesting and environmental conservation in order to tackle the challenges of climate change.

Speaking today 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 Mr Kisyula.

He said sand harvesting cartels which thrive on connections in all levels of government raked in huge sums of money and a multiplicity of actors had grown into the infamous cocaine cartels of South America.

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The Executive who was flanked by his Kitui counterpart John Makau who is leading the Kitui delegation praised the decision by Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu to slap a total ban on sand harvesting and charcoal burning and trade in Kitui County.

He said Makueni County has put a variety of measures to deal with sand harvesting and environmental degradation through legislation, formation of a sand conservation and utilization authority and community based structures.

He said that without similar legal and institutional structures in neighbouring counties, unscrupulous sand dealers would still flourish using loopholes in those 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 Mr Kisyula.

Noting that the solution for water scarcity in arid and semi arid areas was not in sinking boreholes and pumping water in major rivers, Mr Kisyula said construction of sand dams and distribute water using gravity.

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“God has endowed us with water under the sand. Our water is seated in the sands on our river beds. Why do we then allow our sands to be poached and carted away leaving our people impoverished?”, he posed.

He called on radical approaches for 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.

The benchmarking consultative meetings also brought on board members of the Makueni County Assembly Committee on Water, Irrigation, Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Management and officials from the executive.

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