10 Kenya counties attacked by locusts, Uganda under threat

Locusts in Tana River County.

Desert locusts have reached Baringo and Kiambu counties — bringing the total of infested counties in Kenya to 10.

The update is from the desert locust situation update released on Monday by the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO said some swarms may reach northeast Uganda and southwest South Sudan.

The Locust Watch indicated a significant and extremely dangerous increase in swarm activity during the past week in Kenya.

KBC said on Wednesday that panic gripped parts of Baringo County as a swarm of the dreaded locusts were spotted in the area.

The locals say the locusts were spotted in Kamurio in Tiaty and Arabal in Baringo South sub-counties.

According to John Lokidep a resident, the insects are said to have landed from Suguta valley.

Area Member of County Assembly Sam Lokales now wants the government to send a surveillance team to the area to stop the dreaded locusts from consuming their pasture.

Elsewhere, the locusts have also landed in Kiambu and tearing down crops in Juja area.

Residents of Karamoni village in Juja farm, Kiambu County after suspected locusts invaded their farms destroying vegetation.

“Numerous, large immature swarms are spreading from the initial invasion areas of Mandera county to Wajir and Garissa. Then west along the Ethiopia border of Moyale and Marsabit counties and southwest into central areas north of Mt Kenya including Isiolo, Samburu, Meru and most recently Laikipia counties,” the report read.

The report said more swarms are expected to occur in these areas, some of which are already moving north of Mt Kenya westwards to Baringo county where they could continue northwest to Turkana county.

Others will move west along the Ethiopian border, and some swarms could move further south to Tana River county.

Kenya map to show locust spread and forecast

“In all areas, there is an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods. In the northeast, some swarms have started to mature, which means that egg-laying could be imminent in open areas of sandy moist soil where eggs would hatch after about two weeks and give rise to numerous hopper bands in February,” the UN food agency said.

In Somalia, mature swarms are present in the Garbahare area near Mandera county. In Ethiopia, immature swarms continue to form and move in the eastern regions of Harar in East Harerghe and Somali in Jijjiga and Warder, Kebridehar, Gode in the Ogaden.

“Limited ground and aerial control operations are in progress in Ethiopia where 3,700 hectares have been treated so far in January, and by DLCO-EA, national and county agencies and the private sector in parts of Kenya.

So far, survey and control operations have not been mounted in central and southern Somalia due to insecurity. Aerial control efforts need to be urgently and very quickly upscaled in all countries, FAO said.

The Locust Watch shows that important breeding continues in the winter breeding areas along the coastal plains of the Red Sea where control operations are in progress against hopper groups.

Kenya Cabinet Secretary, Eugene Wamalwa told KTN on Wednesday that there was a looming food crisis but said the government had done enough to eliminate the locusts  using planes spraying insecticides except they were still stuck in Isiolo.

Pictures of hapless residents of Baringo were shown trying to chase the locusts with sticks and shouting.




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