Mining impact on communities’ livelihoods: A case study of Taita Taveta County, Kenya

Irene W. Mwakesi, Raphael G. Wahome, Daniel W. Ichang'i

Mining has been blamed globally for harmful and impoverishing effects. Most countries are rich sources of gemstone, yet there is very little development, since miners, and those around mining sites, still live in abject poverty. This study sought answers on: “how mining activities have affected communities’ livelihoods?”. Data was gathered from, Mwatate Sub-county, Taita Taveta County, Kenya. Structured questionnaires were administered through mobile technology, to randomly selected respondents from 173 out of 990 households, followed by a one-on-one focused discussions with Key Informants. Both groups were purposively selected. Data was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 21.0 after it was examined for accuracy by arranging it into manageable units and identifying patterns among variables. The findings were presented on tables for clear understanding. The study found that there is no proper mining regulatory system in Kenya. There is also no control of the intrusive influx of migrants from other counties into the mining areas of Taita or regulations for best mining practices. Mining did not help some of the households, to acquire assets, even though it enhanced ability to meet their day to day needs. Mining pits, poor rehabilitation and large-scale mining have caused a loss of agricultural land resulting in reduced crop yields and poor living standards. Some established mining companies in the area did not compensate, or share their accrued revenues nor did they support development projects as was expected. Therefore, the improvement brought about by mining was not sustainable to communities’ livelihood. The study recommends diversification of economic activities for livelihood improvement. To reduce poverty, equitable distribution of benefits and costs needs to be considered as essential. Environmental and social impact assessment, as a legal framework to regulate the mining operations, should be enforced in Africa and in Kenya.