LOCUST INVASION

17 counties now infested with desert locusts

Locusts now spread to Turkana, Kajiado and Muranga counties

In Summary

• Locusts spread to three new Counties- Muranga, Kajiado and Turkana according to the UN food agency.  

•A locust swarm of one square kilometre can eat the same amount of food as 35, 000 people in one day. T

Locusts infested areas.
Locusts infested areas.
Image: FAO

Seventeen counties are now infested with desert locusts.

By February 7, new sightings had been made in Kajiado, Muranga and Turkana counties.

Others are Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu, Garissa, Isiolo, Laikipia, Meru, Baringo, Embu, Machakos, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, and Kitui.

 
 

Desert locust were first reported in December 28 last year after crossing from Somalia to El Wak in Mandera.

David Mwangi, head of Plant Protection Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, said the last locust invasion reported in Kenya was in 2007 in Mandera and Wajir counties.

He said the locust came from Ethiopia and Somalia because they multiply in the Red Sea coastal region of Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and then across areas of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The pests cross to Kenya once in while when the control in these countries is not effective or when the populations are high.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation latest update indicates that desert locusts is the most dangerous migratory pest in the world, and the potential for destruction is enormous.

A locust swarm of one square kilometre can eat the same amount of food as 35, 000 people in one day. The locusts can cost devastating damage to green vegetation including crops, pasture or trees.

The desert locust situation update report released on Monday indicated that breeding of the swarms continues, and that the upsurge presents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

 
 

“The desert locusts have also spread to Uganda and Tanzania. Consequently, there is an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the region,” the report reads.

FAO confirmed that numerous immature and mature swarms continue to move throughout northern and central areas in Kenya. This will cause locusts to increase further in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia with new swarms forming in March and April.

“Mature swarms reached within 50 km of Uganda border on February 6 and other mature swarms nearly reached Tanzania border on the 7th. On February 9, there were reports that desert locust arrived in northeast Uganda near Amudat. Other reports indicated that the locusts had crossed the border into northern Tanzania close to Mt. Kilimanjaro, reaching Arusha and Mushi,” said FAO in the updated report.

The locust watch report further indicated that widespread hatching and band formation will occur in the coming weeks in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

There remains a risk of a few small swarms appearing in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and perhaps northern Tanzania in the coming days. Elsewhere, above-normal breeding continues along both sides of the Red Sea coast where hopper groups, bands, adult groups and a few swarms are forming on the coastal plains,” FAO said.

Meanwhile, the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund had donated Sh100 million to FAO to fight the worsening locust upsurge in the Horn of Africa.

FAO estimates that SH7.6 billion is needed to scale up efforts to control the rapid spread of the pest. So far more than Sh1.8 billion has been donated to fight the upsurge.