Demand for sand has rocketed, but it is causing damage to the environment as miners harvest the lucrative commodity - a vital ingredient for concrete - and it is leading to conflict, a researcher has told the BBC.
“We’re doing huge damage to the environment, we’re stripping river beds bare, we’re stripping beaches bare, tearing up forests and farmland all to get at that sand and in some places it has got so bad that organised crime has got into the business - meaning hundreds of people have been murdered over sand in the last few years,” Vince Beiser told the Newsday programme.
The author of The World in Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization said that violence was at its worst in India, Kenya and The Gambia.
In Kenya almost a dozen people had been killed in the last few years in fighting - sometimes involving rival gangs, sometimes villagers whose livelihoods were being destroyed by the miners, he said.
Listen to his interview about how the world is running out of sand: