The funds are intended to help miners purchase modern gold extraction equipment and eliminate the use of harmful mercury in gold mines.
Gold miners risk their lives daily as they go into deep gold shafts in search of gold due to a lack of sophisticated equipment and tools of the trade.
Many of the small-scale gold miners in search of gold deposits use mercury amalgams to speed up the process of extracting gold from its ore.
The Secretary-General of the Kakamega County Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners, Patrick Makhule, noted that the UNDP grant will benefit the first batch of ten self-help groups.
“The groups comprising 30 members each have been approved to benefit from the grant. Each group will get Sh80 million, translating to Sh2.67million per member. The money will be used to procure modern equipment to discourage the use of mercury in gold extraction,” noted Makhule.
The county Secretary General also noted that those to benefit from the grant must have an existing registered self-help group by the social services department.
He also highlighted that UN project was a five-year program being implemented in phases indicating that the remaining groups will be benefiting from the second grant.
Makhule mentioned that the move is meant to ensure that the small-scale gold miners use mercury-free and environmentally friendly methods of extracting gold.
“These miners expose themselves to grave health risks since they don’t have safety gears such as earplugs, safety glasses, masks, gloves and gumboots when extracting gold. They also use bare hands in handling mercury, which in the long run makes them lose their fingernails,”Makhule mentioned.
This comes after a move by a Zambian firm to set up a construction of a gold processing plant help bring to an end the export of raw commodities and ensure that miners get value for their commodities.
According to the firms CEO the firm was targeting small-scale miners from Siaya, Migori, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Kakamega among other counties.
According to reports by Shanta Gold, a gold mining and exploration firm with interests in western Kenya the gold deposits are at 1.31 million ounces valued at Ksh164 billion and expects the mining period to last approximately 10 years.