State, donors mobilise Sh2.4b to fight locusts invasion in counties
The government and development partners have mobilised Sh2.4 billion to fight spreading desert locusts in various counties.
Despite a lot of effort being directed to fighting Covid-19, the government has said that the resources are adequate to support the war against the migratory pests.
Two weeks ago, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that by end of March, 49,246 hectares affected by the dangerous pests had been restored.
Agriculture Principal secretary Hamadi Boga, however, said the ongoing long rains are curtailing the fight to contain the pest.
“The fight against coronavirus has not affected operations to contain the desert locusts,” said Boga.
He added: “The pest had spread to 27 counties but efforts by the government and development partners have yielded results as huge swarms have been contained in most regions.
However, the locusts are currently intensively concentrated in 12 counties.”
He said that of the total contributed financial resources, the government has contributed Sh539 million, African Development Bank (AfDB) Sh500 million and World Bank Sh1.4 billion.
The cash is being used to buy chemicals pesticides and maintain six spraying aircraft, vehicles and personnel among other equipment being used for the same.
Six spraying aircraft have so far been deployed –two from Kenya Army, three from FAO and one from desert locust control organisation (DLCO).
Counties that have been adversely affected include Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana, Samburu and some parts of Laikipia.
Boga said some of the affected counties have harsh terrains, for instance, Suguta and Baragoi in Turkana and Samburu Counties which cannot be accessed due to presence of militia groups.
FAO, in a report on the fight against the pest, warned that the heavy rains would aid in the infestation by the locusts this affecting food security.
“The current situation in East Africa remains extremely alarming as hoppers bands and an increasing number of new swarms are forming in Kenya, Southern Ethiopia and Somalia,” the UN report said.
The UN agency observed that although ground and aerial control operations are ongoing, widespread rains will allow help new swarms to survive, mature and lay eggs.