Effects of Sand Mining on Planetary Health: A Case Study of Ulashi River, Okija Anambra State, Nigeria
Journal of Ecology & Natural Resources
Globally, small scale mining has been recognized as a major contributor to mineral production, employment, poverty alleviation, public revenue and rural development. However, the unsustainable means of resource extraction has become an environmental concern in global South. This study investigated sand mining and its effects on Ulashi River, surrounding farmlands and attendant health risks in Okija, Ihiala LGA, Anambra State. The concept of planetary health was used as a lens to examine the
... to examine the effects of sand mining on the environment and a pathway to address the eco-health inequalities to the vulnerable community. A mixed method approach was adopted in the case study that included qualitative (key informant interviews, field observations and photography) and quantitative methods (81 questionnaires were randomly administered to residents). Laboratory analysis was used to determine the physiochemical parameters and heavy metals (Pb, Mn and Zn) sampled from Ulashi River. Findings from the study showed that an estimated 33,235 m3 of sands have been removed from Ulashi River for the past 17 years. Also, the negative effects of mining in Ulashi River include loss of river bank vegetation, erosion, changes on the river system and lowered riverbed; effects of mining on land include loss of tree population and unquantifiable plant species. Analysed water samples showed that pH, turbidity, DO, BOD, COD and heavy metals (Pb and Mn) were above the permissible limits of NESERA/WHO, hence, Ulashi River is contaminated and community health is endangered when water is used for domestic uses without treatment. Linear Regression was used to test the economic benefits of sand mining. Results indicated that for every unit increase in monthly number of sands extracted from Ulashi River, it is estimated that the monthly income level of the respondent will increase by 0.317 units. Hence, sand mining has a significant relationship with the economic livelihood of the community. This study recommended youth partnership and education, enforcement of policies, monitoring environmental quality and community inclusion in research studies.