The Kenyan government has embarked on aerial pesticide spraying to stop the invasion of desert locusts that have caused destruction of crops in northern Kenya.
The locusts invaded the area on Saturday, 28 December 2019, after crossing the border from Somalia and Ethiopia, with the latest report indicating the presence of the insects in Garissa County in northern Kenya.
Government spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna, said in a statement that spray aircraft stationed in Wajir managed to spray swathes of Wajir and Mandera Counties, while Marsabit and Garissa Counties are in the next schedule of aerial spray.
“The national ground teams continue with monitoring, mobilization and sensitization of the County ground control support teams and the local communities in Wajir and Mandera. Monitoring activities identified swarms of locusts in Leisanyu and Sabuli in Wajir which were sprayed,” he said.
“The operation continues to ensure that the situation is fully controlled, and possible spread of the locusts is contained. The general public is equally assured that the government is in full control of the situation,” he added.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has pointed out that locust invasion has been made worse by unusual heavy rainfall and floods that have hit the horn of Africa region in the past months.
According to FAO, each km2 of a dense swarm can contain 50 000 000 locusts, eating 100 tonnes of vegetation per day
“All efforts are required by national authorities to undertake regular surveys, timely reporting and efficient control, and to upscale these activities in the coming weeks and months,” noted the United Nations agency in its latest situation report.
The origin of the insects is reported as the Red Sea region. Countries such as Ethiopia, Eretria, Yemen and Sudan, among others, have been affected.
The last time they were reported in Kenya was in 2007, in Mandera and Wajir Counties.