On Friday, Kenya signed an agreement to join the Minamata Convention on Mercury, becoming the 147th country worldwide to make the move.
In a statement, the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury noted that with the pact, Kenya had agreed to working with other countries to eliminate the use and release of mercury from artisanal and small scale gold mining.
"On 22 September 2023, Kenya deposited its instrument of ratification successfully, becoming the 147th Party to commit to the worldwide initiative to make mercury history," read the statement.
With the agreement, Kenya committed to become a party of the convention adopted worldwide on January 19, 2013, after negotiating for three years.
According to the US government website, the Minamata Convention was named after Minamata City in Japan which suffered mercury poisoning for decades.
Reports indicated that industrial waste containing mercury was discharged into Minamata Bay.
"The wastewater contained methylmercury, which bioaccumulated in fish and shellfish in the bay. Local people who consumed seafood from Minamata Bay became very sick, and many died or were left severely disabled," read the statement in part.
Soon after, concerned countries came together for a global action against the use of mercury noting that affected waterways transcended country borders.
Requirements from Partner Countries
Partner countries are required to control mercury air emissions from coal-fired power plants, industrial boilers, and certain non-ferrous metals as well as phase out mercury use in certain products such as batteries, switches, lights, cosmetics, pesticides and measuring devices.
Other requirements are adherence to the supply and trade of mercury, safer storage and disposal, and strategies to address contaminated sites as well as reporting on measures taken to implement certain provisions.
Phasing out or reducing the use of mercury in manufacturing processes such as chlor-alkali production, vinyl chloride monomer production, and acetaldehyde production.
Countries that are part of the convention include the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Uganda and Tanzania. Uganda made the ratification in May 2019 while Tanzania made the move in October 2020.
Russia, Yemen, Venezuela, and Mozambique are yet to ratify their engagement.