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Kenya Launches 3rd Phase Of Desert Locust Fight Amid Threat To Food Security

Kenya launched the third phase of the battle against desert locusts that have spread to 26 counties. Phase three seeks to prevent the newly hatched hoppers from developing into swarms.
12 Mar 2020 15:55
Kenya Launches 3rd Phase Of Desert Locust Fight Amid Threat To Food Security
A girl shows the desert locusts in Kitui County, Kenya, Feb. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)

Kenya on Wednesday launched the third phase of the battle against desert locusts that have spread to 26 counties and pose a new threat to food security and rural livelihoods.

Peter Munya, cabinet secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation said the government has earmarked additional funds to facilitate the acquisition of equipment, manpower and pesticides required to contain the voracious pests.

“Phase three of our campaign against desert locusts seeks to prevent the newly hatched hoppers from developing into swarms. We are also on the lookout for new young swarms from Somalia that are flying into northern Kenya,” said Munya in Nairobi during the launch of the third phase of the fight against locust.

He said the government has secured funding from multilateral lenders to support the war against desert locusts that have been devastating crops and pasture in semi-arid counties.

A swarm of desert locusts invade parts of Mwingi Town in Kitui County, Kenya, Feb. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)

A swarm of desert locusts invade parts of Mwingi Town in Kitui County, Kenya, Feb. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)

“At the moment, we are working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to set up operational bases in northern Kenya and enhance emergency response to an invasion by locusts,” said Munya.

He said the government aims to acquire 20 helicopters to support aerial spraying of desert locusts and halt their match towards the country’s main breadbaskets.

“Further, we seek to procure more ground control vehicles, protective clothing, GPSs and radio communication for ground control operations,” said Munya.

“We are estimating that we will need nearly 100,000 liters of assorted chemicals to sustain the campaign,” he added.

The government is said to have partnered with FAO to recruit a team of experts who will in the next three weeks conduct an assessment that is expected to deliver accurate results.

“The findings from that assessment will enable the government and development partners to identify mitigation measures to support affected communities,” said Munya.

He said the government is paying attention to insecurity, funding, logistical and manpower bottlenecks that slowed down the fight against desert locusts at the initial stages.

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