Morphologic Response of a River Channel to Sand Mining in River Tyaa, Kitui County, Kenya

Philip Gathogo Muiruri (Department of Geography, Kenyatta University, Kenya, 43844, Nairobi)
Joy A. Obando (Department of Geography, Kenyatta University, Kenya, 43844, Nairobi)
Ishmail O. Mahiri (Department of Geography, Kenyatta University, Kenya, 43844, Nairobi)

Article ID: 1935


Over 40 billion tons of sand is mined worldwide every year which is estimated to be higher than the natural replacement rates. In Kenya, the rate of sand mining is raising concerns over its environmental effects since it is not regulated. This paper presents findings on the geomorphic effects of sand mining in the ephemeral River Tyaa channel in Kitui County. The study adopts the concept of feedback response mechanism of a natural geomorphic system. Through purposive sampling River Tyaa was selected for the study, where rampant sand mining was reportedly taking place. Random sampling on the five sand mining sites identified came up with a representative site namely Kanginga on which systematic sampling was applied while collecting data at both the active and control sites. Data on channel width, depth and slope angles was obtained through physical measurements while data on quantity of sand mined was obtained from Mwingi Sand Mining Cooperative. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to analyse data whereby the model compared active and control sites. Test results indicated that sand mining had significantly increased river channel’s width (O.R. =1.531), depth (O.R. =1.527) and slope angles (O.R. =1.634) at active mining sites compared to control sites as deduced from the respective Odds Ratios. It concluded that sand mining had altered channel’s morphology resulting to adverse environmental effects such as loss of riparian vegetation and channel incision. It recommended curbing of illegal sand mining through licencing operators and reducing quantity of sand mined by closing some mines. Furthers, it recommended monitoring through regular Environmental Impact Assessment (E.I.A) and Audit (E.A) to inform protection of the river system from degrading.


Channel incision; Ephemeral stream; Morphologic response; Sand mining; Sustainable development

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