SECOND WAVE

Counties put on high alert as desert locusts spread

FAO says Kenya could be past its peak after no new swarms were reported in Wajir and Garissa counties.

In Summary

• Desert locusts have so far invaded 17 counties including Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Mandera, Machakos, Kitui, Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua and Nakuru.

• About 203 swarms have so far settled in the country and out of this, 121 have been controlled reflecting a total area of 34,270 hectares.

Locust invasion in the Horn of Africa.
Locust invasion in the Horn of Africa.
Image: FAO

Turkana, Baringo, Kajiado and Elgeyo Marakwet counties have been put on high alert amid the second wave of the desert locust invasion.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya said swarms were spreading fast and have been reported in more counties.

Munya said the locusts had been reported in Machakos, Kitui, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua and Nakuru counties as of February 7.

“I’m informed by our ground teams that Machakos, Kitui, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua and Nakuru have also been invaded. Turkana, Baringo, Kajiado and Elgeiyo Marakwet are on high alert,” Munya said.

He spoke on Monday during a joint desert locust dialogue meeting with officials from county governments and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Munya said about 203 swarms had settled in the country so far. Some 121 swarms have been controlled reflecting a total area of 34,270 hectares.

“More swarms are expected to invade and settle in the months of February and March based on projections by FAO’s desert locust information office. We, therefore, need to ensure that these are controlled before the long rains season since as we all know rains create a conducive environment for the desert locust to thrive,” Munya said.

The CS noted a lot was being done to counter the desert locust invasion but more still needs to be done.

FAO said the swarms in the second wave which were first reported in November last year are smaller but swift and were spreading fast.

Seventeen counties have so far been invaded in the second wave. They include  Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Mandera, Machakos, Kitui, Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Nyandarua, Nakuru.

FAO Locust Watch report released on Monday showed immature swarms continue to spread across northern and central counties. About 20 small swarms are present in those areas.

“Some of the swarms are in community areas and therefore cannot be treated. A small swarm reached Elgeyo Marakwet county in the west and another one was reported today in Turkana in county. This means there is a risk that a few swarms could reach eastern Uganda and southeastern South Sudan,” the report said.

The UN agency said the peak of the Kenya invasion had passed as there have been no new reports of incoming swarms in the past two days.

No more swarms were reported in Wajir and Garissa counties.

“Intensive control operations are underway in Kenya and southern Ethiopia to reduce the potential scale of the next generation of breeding. If rains fall in the next week or so, the swarms will quickly mature and lay eggs that will hatch and cause hopper bands to form,” FAO said.

Immature swarms (pink in colour) invasion in Ethiopia
Immature swarms (pink in colour) invasion in Ethiopia
Image: FAO