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Mwololo's Story

“I bought my own lorry in 2015; it cost KES. 20, 000,” says Mwololo, a former sand broker who is now a successful farmer at Ngondini Village in Kilome Sub-county, Makueni County. He takes us through his journey in sand harvesting along Ikolya river before the Makueni Sand Act, 2015.

The 30-year-old is among hundreds of former sand loaders who have since reformed. He eyes a living by growing pawpaw and assorted vegetables on a small farmland overlooking the section of the riverbed he scooped sand a decade ago.

"During our time the temptation to quit school was high due to sand harvesting in our neighborhood. In 2010 I joined my neighbors and relatives to scoop sand at Ikolya River after completing a carpentry course at a local college," he reminisces.

Armed with agility and determination, Mwololo rose through the sand scooping ranks to the coveted broker level within a year. The responsibilities at this rank entails scouting for sand, mobilizing loaders and bribing authorities. In the second year he bought a truck, industry parlance for being entrusted with managing a sand transporting truck.

"The driver of the truck I owned trusted me to an extent of daring to drive through all barriers set by the County government because he knew I would never let him down. I had to ensure that my boys are well prepared to repel authorities who had become our enemy for banning sand harvesting"

An aggressive sand conservation campaign has seen the former sand miners become sand conservation champions. The County government constructed two sand dams along the river which was badly defaced by wanton sand mining.

"Ikolya River is recovering rapidly. Within two years it has enough water to sustain all the community farming activities as well as domestic water use. We only sink shallow wells in the sand which allows faster torrent flow for the farmers who pump the water for irrigation. We cannot condone sand mining as we have realized that sand is life and it conserves water," says Reverend Stephen Musyoka, a sand conservation champion who grows fruits and assorted vegetables along the rejuvenated river.