Mwakesi Irene Wakio

Degree Programme
Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Governance and Management
Research Topic:
Effects of Mining on Society, Livelihood and Environment: A case study of Taita Taveta County, Kenya
Mwakesi Irene

Career Interests

To expand the scope of my professional activities to include educational development in institutions through participating and contributing in Scientific research, policy formulation exercises and outreach programmes in addition to utilizing my interpersonal communication and diplomacy skills as supportive tools towards peace and development.

Key Experience and Career History

My key experience has been in communication and information dissemination activities.  I have been involved in, Electronic Media (Television and Radio) programme production having worked with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation for 17 years as a television producer and as a manager heading the National Radio. 

Since 1993, I performed Information duties with UNICEF ESARO and United Nations Information Centre (UNIC). This involved producing and recording a daily five-minute Kiswahili radio Programme titled “Timiza Ahadi” (Keep the Promise) which involved all UN Agencies on the Millennium Development Goals and education outreach programmes in Kenya and Uganda among other UN agenda programmes like the UN Educational Outreach Programmes covering Kenya and Uganda.


Ph.D.    Environmental Governance and Management University of Nairobi  -2020                 

M.A.     Masters Degree on International Relations  University of Nairobi- 2009                           

Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication  University of Nairobi - 1989

B.Ed.    Bachelor of Education – University of Nairobi, Kenyatta College - 1976    


•A research paper "Television Viewership in Nairobi": by Irene Mwakesi, 1989 (School of Journalism

•Thesis on “The impact of the UN System Wide Initiative in Africa” 2009

•Thesis on “Effects of Mining on Society, Livelihood and Environment: A case study of Taita Taveta County, Kenya” 2020



Mining has been blamed globally for harmful and impoverishing effects. Most countries are rich sources of the gemstone, yet there is very little development, since miners, and those around mining sites, still live in poverty. This premise formed the purpose of this study and led the researcher to assess the impacts of mining on people living around mining areas on the aspects of their socio-cultural dynamics, livelihood and environmental conditions. This study was done at Mwatate sub-county in Taita Taveta County. Specific mining areas were Kamtonga and Mkuki. Questionnaires, observational record sheets and guided discussions were used as inquiry tools to collect information on the problem under study. Livelihood Framework analysis was adopted to show the interplay between mining and development. The research method applied included structured questionnaires administered using mobile technology to target random respondents of 173 out of 990 households drawn from nine villages. Observation method was applied in the case of environmental impacts. Record sheets were used to collect data in nine purposive selected mining sites on the elements of vegetation, topography and air. The descriptive and content analytical approach was applied to assess the mining impact on the environment. Key Informants interviewed were also purposively selected, for a one-on-one discussion based on their exposure to the mining operations. Data was collected examined and analysed for accuracy by arranging it into manageable units and identifying patterns among variables. The findings were presented on tables for clear understanding. The findings on socio-cultural aspects, respondents agreed on a scale of 1-4 (1=strongly disagree, 2=Disagree, 3=Agree and 4=Strongly agree), that there were loss of their ancestral land, conflicts, dilution of Taita culture through mixed intermarriages, increased prostitution, alcoholism and high school dropouts. On the aspect of livelihoods, open mining pits and large-scale mining have caused the loss of agricultural land even though it has enhanced the ability to meet day to day needs for the communities and improved their livelihood. Because of mining activities, diverse economic activities have also grown in Taita Taveta. The study revealed that Taita Taveta County recorded a higher monthly income of Ksh. 46,468 from mining, followed by Machakos County Ksh.18,500 compared to Makueni, Kilifi, Kitui and Tana River counties The study also revealed varied mining effects concerning the migration of communities from other counties into mining areas of Taita. Observation done on the environment at the mining areas revealed that trees, shrubs and grassland were cleared for mining activities. Forests and most of the natural habitation and indigenous trees have been eliminated. Additionally, the lives of both domestic and wild animals have been interrupted. Underground mining has interfered with water beds and rivers have dried up. In a scale of 1-5 (1=None, 2=Very thin, 3=Thin, 4=Thick, 5=Very thick) it was observed that transportation of materials created thick dust on the environment as given in a scale of 4. The uncontrolled dust is very common and miners require more visibility of NEMA and Kenya Forest Service (KFS). There is a need for an active legal framework to regulate the mining operations in Taita-Taveta County. Other suggestions would be to increase economic activities which will enhance livelihood improvement if efforts to understand the characteristics of the diversified communities are employed. Improving the livelihood of these communities may require the involvement of policymakers, Environmental Impact Assessment reports before, during and after the mining operations is desired.



Research Supervisors

Research Supervisors

Prof. Raphael G. Wahome

Dr. Daniel W. Ichangi