Sand harvesting, Kwale County 2019

This page summarizes the issues around sand harvesting in Kwale County in 2019, from the perspective of coral reef health and actions CORDIO (through David Obura) has taken to promote evidence-based decisions by the authorities, project proponents and stakeholders.


Sand harvesting is being done by the vessel Wilhelm van Oranje, owned by the Dutch engineering firm Boskalis on contract to Toyo Construction, a Japanese contractor working on the Phase 2 Container terminal. The project is financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the main client is the Kenya Ports Authority.

The vessel is doing two jobs – dredging the ship channel in Port Reitz, going out and dumping this collected spoil at the designated site offshore, then turning south and collecting sand from off the Waa and the Tiwi reefs for construction of the container terminal (Berth 23).

There has been a great deal of unclarity around the project, mainly due to inadequate communication before dredging and harvesting started in March 2019, and because the EIA and other associated documents were done in 2007, 2012 and 2013. Many consider these time scales to be inappropriate for a valid EIA – and certainly consultations done at those times would be long-forgotten by most stakeholders in 2019.


Efforts summarized here show how, given the evidence that impacts to the reefs are not as much as most people (including ourselves) have feared, CORDIO is trying to put in place the necessary mitigation actions and monitoring to ensure negligible impact.