- Residents turn to improvised methods including beating iron sheets, whistling and screaming to scare away pests
- An estimated 20,000 hectares have been invaded in the 14 counties
Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki has told the national government to declare the locust invasion in parts of the country a national disaster.
Tharaka residents have turned to improvised methods including beating iron sheets, whistling and screaming to scare the desert insects that have left a lot of destruction.
Kindiki said the government should not bury its head in the sand whereas farmers and pastoralists are suffering due to the massive destruction of pasture and crops in many parts of the country.
“It is time the crisis was declared a national disaster. I have visited several areas invaded trying to chase them. They are many at Kathangacini and Maragwa in Gatunga ward. We are tired screaming and whistling to chase the insects," he said.
“The insects are in millions and I ask the agriculture department to come to the ground. It seems all desert locusts have migrated to Tharaka Nithi county. CS Peter Munya, our neighbour, says there are eight aeroplanes, four for spraying chemicals and four for surveillance. But where are they? Are they a hoax?”
Kindiki toured Maragwa and Kathangacini locations to assess the damage in Gatunga ward, Tharaka constituency, on Wednesday.
The locusts have been reported in Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Garissa, Baringo, Meru, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Kitui, Embu, Machakos and Makueni counties.
An estimated 20,000 hectares have been invaded in the 14 counties.
Kindiki urged the national government to carry out an assessment of the damage that could lead to drought so as to compensates farmers.
“This is a national disaster. I have witnessed an elderly man cry helplessly after all his crops and pasture were feasted on. The government should conduct assessment and all affected families be compensated,” Kindiki said.
Agriculture CS Peter Munya says the heavy rains experienced are slowing down efforts to control the destructive pests.
"We have also been experiencing delays and shortage of the chemicals which are not found locally and are imported from Japan,” Munya said.
The CS said the President had given a go-ahead for the ministry to order direct purchase of the pesticides from the Japanese government.
Kindiki appealed to President Uhuru Kenyataa, his deputy William Ruto and former prime minister Raila Odinga to stop all political activities and focus on the fight against the locusts.
“There should be no politics at the expense of locusts. We demand that President Uhuru and Raila stop all the BBI meetings and all efforts concentrated in the fight against locusts. Whether you are elected, nominated, administrator or clergy assist the way you can to help us deal with these insects,” he said.
He expressed fears the insects were breeding at an alarming rate.
Kindiki blamed the county government for not releasing the disaster management funds to complement the national government in the fight.
“There is a great problem with our county government. We have read mischief. We voted our governor and have fought for annual addition of resources. Women reps, MP and MCAs do not have emergency or disaster funds. Senate is worst in terms of public funds allocation,” Kindiki said.
The United Nations has warned that the current desert locusts situation is a threat to food security.