Defusing a Time Bomb: Sand Mining in Uganda

For thousands of years, sand has been a very important material in construction. It is known that that wet sand was fundamental in the building of Egyptian pyramids as well as the mortar Romans produced in construction of buildings, roads, bridges and harbors over two thousand years ago. Today, more than ever before, sand is not only a critical natural resource in the construction industry but a great economic asset as well. It is a $70 billion dollar industry globally and the second most consumed natural resource besides water extracted in a range of 50 billion tonnes per year.

Sand is a critical ingredient of human activities and livelihoods. It is the primary raw material that modern cities are made from. The concrete used to construct shopping malls, offices, and apartment blocks, along with the asphalt we use to build roads connecting them, are largely just sand and gravel glued together. The glass in a window, windshield, and smart phone screen is made of melted-down sand. The silicon chips inside our phones and computers – alongside many other pieces of electronic equipment in in our homes are made from sand. Sand is also used in setting up coastal areas, beach nourishment and recreation, among others.