STILL SPREADING

Kenya gets Sh1.4 billion, three planes to fight locusts

Young locusts have been hatched in Isiolo, Tharaka Nithi, Kitui, Turkana, Marsabit, Garissa and Embu

In Summary

• PS Hamadi Boga says the planes will be deployed to Isiolo, Turkana and Marsabit counties

• A total of 26,995 litres of pesticides have been procured and distributed for use for controlling the locusts since January

A man scares away a swarm of locusts at Kuikui, Baringo North.
DESTRUCTIVE: A man scares away a swarm of locusts at Kuikui, Baringo North.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Kenya has received Sh1.4 billion and three additional aircraft to fight locusts. 

The money was given by the World Bank while the planes were donated by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

In total, FAO has given Kenya five aircraft since January.

 

The locusts are still advancing to more counties. Last week, swarms were spotted coming from Ethiopia and Somalia.

"The World Bank has activated disbursement of $14 million (Sh1.4 billion) to enhance control of desert locust invasion Kenya," the bank said yesterday.

The funds are drawn from the contingency emergency response component of the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project, a World Bank-supported programme which ends in 2022.

According to FAO, young locusts, called nymphs, have been sighted in 134 sites in Samburu, Isiolo (28 sites), Tharaka Nithi (16), Kitui (14), Turkana (four), Marsabit (three), Garissa (two) and Embu (one) counties.

“There is an urgent need to intensify aerial and ground desert locust control activities. We are very grateful for the incoming donor response to this Level 3 emergency that is enabling us to support the Kenyan government to upscale response actions,” FAO representative to Kenya Dr Tobias Takavarasha said while handing over the planes to the Ministry of Agriculture last Friday. 

Principal Secretary for State Department for Crops Development and Agriculture Research Hamadi Boga said the planes will be deployed to Isiolo, Turkana and Marsabit counties.

"These are counties that are very vast geographically, and aerial control is the most effective course of action for the mature and immature swarms that continue to come in from Ethiopia and Somalia. From the tracking tool that FAO is using to monitor the movements of desert locusts, the pattern shows that they are heading there,” he said.

 

With more than 3.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in semi-arid areas of Kenya, uncontrolled breeding of desert locusts poses the risk of decimation of crops grown at the germination stage as well as loss of pasture, FAO says.

A total of 26,995 litres of pesticides have been procured and distributed for use to control the locusts since January.

FAO said it will further support the government’s desert locust control measures by training 30 trainers of trainers between March 16-21, who will then train 900 local operations teams in the affected counties from March 23-25.

The 900 trainees will be responsible for actual ground surveillance and control activities, and will play a critical role in relaying data to the control bases.

Edited by Henry Makori