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A farmer's son raises his arms as he is surrounded by desert locusts while trying to chase them away from his crops, in Katitika village, Kitui County. [Ben Curtis, AP]

Kenya will not be free from the locust menace if we do not take the war against the pest to the source.

All countries in eastern Africa must work together to fight the locust invasion currently spreading in the region.

The destructive pests have already caused extensive damage to farmlands in Somalia and Ethiopia.

I agree with Esther Ndumi Ngimbi, an assistant professor, department of entomology at the University of Illinois when she says in one of her articles that it is possible for African countries to anticipate and prepare for locust invasions by tapping into existing support tools such as the Horizon Scanning tool.

African States need to strengthen pest surveillance efforts by putting in place systems such as stronger insect species task forces, committees and advisory groups to provide expertise and guidance on how to prepare for and tackle pest invasions. 

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Efforts by the government, which is working closely with the Desert Locust Control Organisation for Eastern Africa, to fight the invasion are commendable.

However, the invasion can only be effectively controlled if similar efforts are put in place by all countries in eastern Africa.

Kenya will not be free from the locust menace if we do not take the war against the pest to the source.

Furthermore, a long-term strategy to counter all pests should be adopted apart from only using pesticides that might end up poisoning water and food sources.

According to a report by the United Nations in 2017, about 200,000 people, mostly in developing countries, die every year from pesticide poisoning.

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Another way to stem losses from locust invasions should be coming up with policies that boost food security in the region.

This way, an invasion in one part of the region will not affect the food security in the entire region. 

Dion Juma, Nairobi.

Locust Locust invasion East Africa

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