Sand Gradation in Seasonal Rivers and Their Suitability for Construction of Sand Dams in Kitui South, Kenya

Kennedy Mutati, Johnson U. Kitheka, Ezbon Otieno


This study was undertaken in Kitui South in Kitui County in the south eastern parts of Kenya. The main objective of the study was to develop a spatial model that can be used for selection of suitable sites for sand dam in Kitui South. The study also assessed the spatial variation of sand grain sizes and how these determines the suitability of sites for the sand dams. Data analysis was done using three approaches. The first approach involved the use of the Remote Sensing (RS) technique where data was preprocessed and analyzed using Erdas Imagine software and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for spatial modelling. The distribution of sand particle-sizes was based on sieve analysis on the sand samples collected from seasonal rivers in the study area. The seasonal rivers that were investigated in this study included Mwila, Kakya, Wiitu, Nguni, Ngunyumu, Muvuko, Kanzilu, Masaa, Katiliku, Ngulungu, Nzeeu, Koma and Katitika. Statistical analysis was done to establish the relationships between the various spatial components affecting sand particle distribution. The results from the spatial model which integrated all factors shows that 16% of the studied sites along the seasonal rivers in Kitui South were fairly suitable for construction of sand dams while 79% were classified as suitable and 5% are categorized as very suitable. Several sites in the central and the entire eastern parts of Mutha Ward were found not suitable for sand dam construction due to poor conditions such as the lack of suitable sand particles, lack of bedrock exposure on the riverbeds, flat terrain, very shallow stream banks, and weak soils on the riverbanks. Suitable sites for sand dams were found on the western and central areas of Kitui South where production and high accumulation of coarse sands was observed along the seasonal rivers. The areas near Mutomo hills and the rocky areas in Ikanga wards were found to be characterized with few excellent sites for sand dams. The optimum accumulation of different grades of sand in the seasonal rivers was found on streams with slope of between 1.5 and 6% that were dominated with0 to 40% coarse sands, 0 to 30% fine gravels, 0 to 20% fine sands, and 20 to 80% medium sands. The accumulation of fine gravels was found to be closely related to the distribution of D30, D60 and D90sand particle-sizes (0.4-4mm) while accumulation of coarse sands showed good relationship with the distribution of the medium size sand (0.2-0.4mm). The accumulation of medium sands was equally high when the occurrence of coarse sands was minimal. Different grades of sand were found to be strongly influenced by the changes in the elevation of the stream especially with regard to the accumulation of the medium sands (r= 0.76) and coarse sands(r=0.75). Out of 80 investigated sites, 59% of them were dominated with uniform sands (Cu<3), 30% were intermediate sands and only 11% were well-graded sands (Cu>5). The study also found that86% of the sites along the seasonal streams were dominated with medium sands while 10% were dominated with fine sands and the rest (4%) dominated by coarse and gravelly sands. From the results this study concludes that 59% of the 80 sites that were investigated in this study have a high potential for providing suitable sites for sand dams in Kitui South.

Keywords: Sand Dams; Particle Size Distribution; Hydrology; Water Management; Kitui South, Kenya

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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