STATE BLAMED FOR LAXITY

Experts sent to diagnose disease linked to locusts

More than 100 goats die in Garissa’s Lagdera and Balambala.

In Summary

• County Livestock executive Mohamed Shale said the county risks losing extensive pasture if the locust spread is not contained.

• The county response team comprises county officials, the office of the county commissioner, the National Drought Management Authority and the Kenya Red Cross Society.

An agricultural expert sprays locust in Mandera county
INVASION: An agricultural expert sprays locust in Mandera county
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

A team of experts have been dispatched to Garissa's Lagdera and Balambala to investigate a strange disease that has killed more than 100 goats in areas invaded by the desert locust.

They include crop experts and veterinary officers. Also accompanying them are volunteers. The move comes as Northeastern leaders blamed the national government for failing to contain the spread of the pests, despite having been informed of their migration towards the country from Somalia and Ethiopia in November last year.

County Livestock executive Mohamed Shale said the county risks losing extensive pasture if the locust spread is not contained. He spoke to the press at Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) in Garissa town after meeting with the coordinating unit from the national and county governments. The unit monitors the locust movement.

The county response team comprises county officials, the office of the county commissioner, the National Drought Management Authority and the Kenya Red Cross Society.

Shale said death reports from the affected areas only "serve to make an already bad situation worse". The meat of the affected animals is yellow-green in colour, a situation that alarmed herders. 

“We have unascertained information that more than 100 goats have died as a result of grazing on leaves in areas that have been invaded and vacated by the desert locusts,” he said.

“However, this is subject to confirmation. This is why we have sent a team of crop production and veterinary officers to collect samples from the dead goats and the leaves for further lab tests."

Shale said that since the aerial spray started last week, the planes have only concentrated on Wajir and Mandera, yet Garissa is also bearing the brunt of the locusts.

“As we speak, the locust has affected the three subcounties of Dadaab, Balambala and Lagdera that border Wajir. In Balambala alone, which is the latest to be invaded, over 1,7000 acres of pasture and green vegetation have been destroyed,” he said.

If the situation continues unchecked, the green vegetation that comes as a result of heavy rains could be lost within weeks, hence resulting in early drought.

Garissa deputy county commissioner Samuel Njuguna, however, said they have established coordinates for the affected areas to guide the plane in the aerial spray.