Desert locust invasion the worst in 70 years for Kenya: FAO


Desert locust invasion the worst in 70 years for Kenya: FAO

This is the worst desert locust invasion for Kenya in 70 years, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.

According to the UN organization, the current situation poses a serious threat to food security and livelihoods as large and numerous swarms continue to destroy crops and pastures across the country.

“There is a high risk that swarms could appear in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia. The high risk of further spread in the East Africa region necessitates an immediate and significant intensification of control activities,” FAO said in a statement on Friday.

Unusual weather and climate conditions have contributed to the spread, including heavy and widespread rains since October 2019.

A further increase in locust swarms is likely to continue until June due to the continuation of favourable ecological conditions for desert locust breeding, FAO said.

The UN organization noted that immature and maturing swarms are moving throughout Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit counties and have reached Isiolo, Meru North and northern Laikipia.

Some swarms are also said to have matured and are laying eggs that will hatch after about two weeks, giving rise to hopper bands in February and March.

This week, a swarm reached Kapedo on the border of Baringo and Turkana counties.

Immature swarms were also spotted in Mwingi, Kitui County.

Aerial and ground control operations are in progress in some areas; further movements are expected, especially in Turkana and Marsabit counties.

According to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), East Africa is already experiencing a high degree of food insecurity.

Over 19 million people are coping with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher levels of hunger.

Under a worst-case scenario, where the current locust upsurge is not quickly contained and becomes a plague by the next main cropping season, significant crop and pasture losses would cause food security in affected areas to worsen further.

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