Invest in research to stem disasters and reduce loss from locust threat

Concerted efforts to address the locust situation are bearing fruit, with the Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa confirming a success rate of 80 per cent.

Large swarms have covered an area of 60km by 40km in Kenya alone, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), as agencies pitch for Sh7 billion funding to rid eastern Africa region of the menace. This is the worst desert locust situation in Kenya in 70 years, and the worst in 25 years for the other affected countries, mainly Somalia and Ethiopia. Uganda and South Sudan could also be casualties in the next few days, experts have warned.

Despite the successes of the operation, Kenya is not out of the woods yet. Agencies say swarms are still getting into the country daily from Somalia and Ethiopia into Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit counties. The swarms already reached Isiolo, Meru and Laikipia.

Yesterday, a swarm invaded Kapedo on the border of Baringo and Turkana. Swarms were also spotted in Kitui County. Further movements are expected in Turkana and Marsabit. If not contained, the locust population could grow exponentially, predisposing the food situation to untold risks. The only way out is to sustain an all-out war against them. We urge the state and international agencies to leave nothing to chance. 

Importantly, the government should learn from this threat. The predicament we face whenever faced with such environmental disasters is an indictment for authorities’ lack of preparedness.

No amount of back-passing will erase this reality. Each year, we are held captive by the weather and appear unwilling to learn.

The situation also begs the question: How come authorities never heed research findings and early warning systems, and for how long will kneejerk reactions continue?

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We need deliberate policies which will boost food production starting with counties hard hit by locusts. Every coin set aside for fighting locusts should ne prudently used and the environmental consequences properly dealt with. CS Peter Munya has work cut out for him. We can’t afford to go hungry in the aftermath of the locust invasion.

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Desert Locust Control OrganisationFood and Agriculture OrganisationLocust