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Russia donates Sh300 million to aid locust fight in Kenya

COUNTIES
By Betty Njeru | April 30th 2020
Residents of Mahiga, Meru chase the desert locusts using old aluminum cooking pots, iron sheets and twigs. [Reuters]

Kenya will receive Sh300 million from Russia to aid in the fight against desert locusts.

The Russian government has said it will contribute an equivalent of $3 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), that will be used in response to the worst desert locust crisis in Kenya in over 70 years.

FAO had warned of a strong second wave of desert locusts brought by the recent rains.

The organisation said that the wave, coming at the onset of the long rains and the planting season, presents a significant threat to the country’s food security and livelihoods.

“Kenya is currently facing a very serious and complex challenge that combines COVID-19 pandemic related health crisis exacerbated by the disruption of international cooperation and the continuing devastating locust invasion that threatens to undermine the nation’s food security. This situation requires a comprehensive response,” a statement read in part.

The locust menace has also extended to other East African countries and to Ethiopia and Somalia.

FAO warned that the swarm of locusts could swell and spill over into more countries in East Africa if efforts to deal with the pests are not massively scaled up across the region.

“Farming communities in the country have already been impacted by extended droughts and we need to help them get back on their feet once the locusts and Covid-19 are gone," said UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya Siddharth Chatterjee.

The locusts first entered Kenya from Somalia and Ethiopia through Elwak and Mandera last year in December.

They have invaded several counties including Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Samburu, Laikipia, Machakos, Baringo and Kitui.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania are some of the worst affected countries in East Africa, where around 20 million people are already experiencing acute food insecurity, and a further 15 million in Yemen, also being affected by the pest.

Locusts feed on any green material, including crops, pasture, fodder and browse.

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