Efforts are underway towards sound chemicals management in Kenya
The Kenyan economy is growing at a steady rate, with an increasing per-capita income and general shift towards becoming a middle-income country.
Much of this growth is due to export-driven agricultural activities, such as flowers and fresh produce for the United Kingdom and European markets. Other small and medium sized industrial activities are also benefiting the economy, as is mining and drilling for extractive chemicals such as sodium carbonate, calcium fluoride, titanium, gold and petroleum.
All of the country’s industries require significant amounts of chemicals. According to the Kenya Statistical Survey (2008), chemicals account for 6 per cent of Kenya’s economy in agriculture, industry and energy. Chemicals, therefore, provide critical input to Kenya’s economy, its people’s quality of life and the environment.
But these chemicals are now imported into the country by traders, not chemists. This has resulted in misuse and accidents that harm people and the environment—news headlines in the country often announce the blatant misuse of chemicals negatively affecting unsuspecting Kenyans, with the most recent example being unsafe levels of mercury in sugar.
Chemicals also influence the quality and quantity output of agricultural and industrial products such as energy, water, transport, pharmaceuticals and consumer products, thus impacting all sectors of development. Although Kenya’s production of toxic chemicals is not high, their misuse and poor management lead to greater negative impacts to human health and the environment. Lack of awareness of the potential risks to users is another challenge.
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