DESERT LOCUSTS

East Africa needs help to stop locust swarms

In Summary

• A swarm can contain 80 million locusts and travel 150km in a day.

• The FAO is warning that the locusts in Kenya can multiply by 500 times in the next five months unless they are controlled.

A swarm of locusts in Mwingi North, Kitui County.
A swarm of locusts in Mwingi North, Kitui County.
Image: LINAH MUSANGI

The invasion of northern Kenya by desert locusts is escalating into a full-scale emergency.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that the locusts could multiply 500 times in the next five months if they are not checked. The swarms could then move into Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan and devastate farms across Kenya.

The Meteorological Office says that warm and slightly wet weather, perfect for breeding locusts, is likely to persist across Kenya. A swarm can contain 80 million locusts and travel 150km in a day eating everything in its path. This is the proverbial plague of locusts.

Government has already deployed several small aeroplanes to spray swarms in northern Kenya but a lot more is needed.

Firstly, tragically, we all have to accept that chemical spraying is the only thing that can save us. 

Secondly, this crisis is too big for East African countries to handle on their own. The international community should step in and support the eradication of locusts in a big way. Donors should provide planes, pesticides and finaningto eliminate the locust swarms in eastern Africa.

Quote of the day: "Money changes all the iron rules into rubber bands."

 Ryszard Kapuściński
The Polish journalist died on January 23, 2007.