Sand poaching business destroying environment
Sand poaching remains one driver of land degradation in the country.Land degradation due to illegal sand abstraction takes away valuable land that can be used for other commercial uses and infrastructural development for the local authorities. Also huge open pits from illegal sand abstraction puts the health and safety of the public at risk as fatalities due to drowning in these pits have been recorded across Zimbabwe as well as the same pits become breeding points for diseases causing vectors such as mosquitoes.
As the world is already facing ominous challenges caused by climate change, hunger and unemployment, man made diseases like Covid 19,another disaster ,illegal sand mining which is also known as sand poaching looms in the background. Sand a scarce renewable natural resource created from rock ,is arguably the second most important natural resource after water. Sand derives its importance from having no other substitutes in many industrial processes and being a critical component of many of the world’s manufacturing industries, including construction, glass factories land reclamation cars cleaning detergents, pottery and silicon manufacture for computer chips,cellphone and electronic gadgets.In these industrial processes, only river and coastal sand are suitable while desert sand cannot be used because of the finer and more rounded nature of its grains.As the industrial and manufacturing industries have grown so has the demand for sand and the sand extraction industry.
“However, the growth in the sand industry is not without its own challenges,it is riddled with emergence of a parallel illegal sand mining industry that excavates sand without required permits ,at undesignated areas,using whatever quantities they can find.Sand may appear plentiful, its demand may surpass its supply.It is this illegal sand mining activities whose practices threaten the sustainability of the sand resource itself and poses many negative socioeconomic and environmental challenges that now supplies a significant proportion of global sand supplies,and unchecked may lead to a serious global crisis”,said an Environmentalist in Harare.
Illegal sand poaching is a global phenomenon, happening irrespective of legislation to regulate and monitor sand mining.In Zimbabwe sand mining is taking place along river beds and on plain land surfaces. Sand poaching is derived mostly in Zimbabwe by a matter of immediate survival versus conservation for future generations.
Local authorities are mandated in Zimbabwe by law to set aside designated sites for sand abstraction to allow for sand abstraction to be done in a regulated manner and these sites should be registered with Environmental Management Agency (EMA).Sand extraction also requires a license from EMA.
Sand remains a valuable resource and is in abundance but local authorities as planning authorities should guard it judiciously by ensuring extraction is done in a responsible manner without harming the environment.