An Examination of the Nature of Sand Harvesting Conflicts and their Influence on Poverty Alleviation Initiatives in Makueni County, Kenya

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Though natural resources play an important role in the economies of many countries, conflicts associated with their access continue to contribute to poverty in many African countries. While studies confirm conflict-poverty nexus for high value natural resources, scanty information is available on the low value resources. This study, therefore, examined one such low value resource – sand. The objective was to examine the nature of sand harvesting conflicts and their influence on poverty alleviation initiatives in Makueni County. The study employed descriptive and historical designs. The study was guided by the Resource Curse and Poverty Theories. The study sample comprised of 420 sand harvesters and several key informants. Data collection was done using questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions and observation. Presentation of data was done using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The study findings established that sand harvesting in Makueni County has been linked to violent conflicts which left many people either maimed, killed or without their property. These had increased poverty levels in the County. The study therefore recommends for establishment of appropriate institutions to mitigate on the conflicts in order to ensure that sand harvesting provides contributes to poverty alleviation in Makueni County.