AUTHORITIES PREPARED

Small mature swarm of desert locusts sighted in Mandera — FAO

Control has been taking place and is no longer a big threat

In Summary

• The FAO said in its Tuesday locust watch update that hatching occurred in north Samburu county and there were third instar hopper bands. 

• Hamisi Williams, FAO-Kenya deputy representative, said there are still one or two swarms in Samburu county in the Suguta Valley.

Desert locust situation threat
Desert locust situation threat
Image: FAO

One small mature swarm of desert locusts has arrived near Mandera county in the northeast from Somalia, the Food and Agriculture Organization has said. 

The FAO said in its Tuesday locust watch update that hatching occurred in the northern part of Samburu county and there were third instar hopper bands. 

Hamisi Williams, FAO-Kenya deputy representative, said there are still one or two swarms in Samburu county in the Suguta Valley.

“Control has been taking place and is no longer a big threat. Turkana county is also clear of the locusts so far,” he told the Star by phone on Wednesday. 

Williams said the FAO is prepared for any eventualities that may come from the end of this month to December. 

He said that FAO and the government are prepared for any second-generation swarms that may cross to Kenya from Somalia and Ethiopia this or next month.

In October, FAO warned that desert locust swarms from Ethiopia and Somalia could cross to parts of northern Kenya in November.

Keith Cressman, FAO's senior locust forecasting officer, said early and ongoing rains have led to a new cycle of breeding and fresh swarms are forming in Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen.

Immature hopper bands have also been identified in Eritrea, Sudan and Saudi Arabia and are likely to form new swarms.

“The winds over the northern portion of the Horn of Africa are now starting to blow southwards again, raising concerns they could reach Kenya later in the year,” he said.

Kenya experienced its worst outbreak in 70 years, but Cressman said the locusts have now been contained to one northern county from 28 in February.

"The threat to the Sahel and West Africa has been averted, which is great news for a region wrestling with other threats to food security,” Cressman said.

The locust watch showed that an increasing number of hopper bands are forming in central Somalia and eastern Ethiopia where control operations are in progress. It is likely that more infestations are present than have actually been detected.

Cressman said the locust campaign must be sustained over the long haul. 

“There will be no overnight victories and apart from aerial control operations, governments must maintain and increase their control efforts using ground survey and control teams,” he said.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris