This paper examines the impact of sand harvesting from rivers on the environment, land use and social life in the Masinga Division, Machakos District, Kenya. Sand acts as a safe aquifer for water flowing below and through it. Removal of sand results in destruction of underground aquifers and loss of safe water. sand scooping adversely affects surface water quality and quantity and damages the aquatic ecosystem. Haulage of sand by heavy trucks causes environmental degradation by accelerating soil erosion and affecting soil stability. Storage of sand causes destruction of surface areas through clearing of vegetation and uses land that could be used for agriculture. Related social and health problems include prostitution and high school drop-out rate leading to serious social and health problems. The beneficial effects of sand harvesting include local employment; however, the share of monetary benefits to locals is minimal. The results show that the local community gains the least from sand harvesting, but stands to suffer the most if the degradation of the river system continues. Suggestions are made for safe and sustainable methods of managing sand harvesting, in which greater local involvement and stricter enforcement of regulations to protect the environment are vital.