Act on locusts menace Ethiopia, Somalia urged

Thursday, March 4th, 2021 14:35 |
A farmer struggles with desert locusts at his farm in Isiolo County. Photo/PD/File

The Uninted Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has accused Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen of doing little to help in the fight against locust invasion as it emerged that there were no new swarms arriving from Somalia.

According to the UN food body, small immature swarms are declining in northern and central counties of Kenya, meaning a decline in invasion threat.

FAO Kenya Deputy Country Director Hamisi Williams said Kenya has done its best in controlling the locusts but the country may not be out of the woods yet if its neighbours doe not collaborate in the ongoing desert locust containment operations.

He said for a long time, the three Horn of Africa neighbours, despite being the source countries for the locust menace in East Africa, have failed to step forward and help in containing the destructive insects. Hamisi said that long term measures should be employed to deal with, not only the insects but also other migratory pests.

“Largely, Kenya has done its part in containing the locusts, but when we look at certain factors happening in the neighbouring region, Kenya is not out of the woods yet. “We may need a long term strategy to deal with not only the locusts, but also a number of migratory pests,” he told People Daily.

Internal conflicts

Hamisi said FAO being the major partner; had been approached by the Kenyan government to work on a long term strategy, which has been established to help locust control intervention efforts for the next 12 months.

He, however said the strategy is being widened to go beyond one year to address future challenges posed by other migratory pests.

“We are back fighting the locusts because of what’s happening in the neighbouring countries. This is becoming a bit tricky. Last year, this year, and we don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I think it is proactive if we say we put measures in place to be able to deal with this; now, tomorrow and in future,” Hamisi noted.

He said it is important to have all the measures in place, and significantly, establish a long term plan to avoid being reactive as a country.

“This is basically what the long term strategy is all about. Since we got the request we have had discussions with the government and already the secretariat is in place to start the work, and we are ready to support this technically so that we can get to the long term,” he added.

Last December, the Ministry of Agriculture together with the FAO, announced a one-year action plan, and what remains is to pick it and make it long term beyond one year.

The three countries in the north and east of Kenya have been battling internal conflicts for decades, and in the process failing to contain the locusts flying out.

The current invasion that has spread rapidly to 23 counties but largely in weak small swarmlets has been assisted by the change of winds, according to FAO climate experts.

Last week, after a two-day assessment of the latest invasion of the desert locusts, Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna appealed to Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen to collaborate with Kenya to contain the destructive insects.

He said that to effectively contain the locusts, there is an urgent need for collaboration. Oguna said in the case of Kenya, the insects moved in from two countries in the East and the North.

He spoke in Igembe Central, Meru County where the FAO and various government agencies including the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and the National Youth Service (NYS) were battling swarms of locusts.

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