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State allays fears as second wave locust invasion poses threat

By Judah Ben-Hur | December 15th 2020 at 12:38:55 GMT +0300

A Samburu man attempts to fend-off a swarm of desert locusts flying over grazing land in Lemasulani village, Samburu County, Kenya January 17, 2020. [Njeri Mwangi, Reuters]

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna has said the government has mitigation measures to ensure locusts do not move to unaffected counties in the second wave of invasion.

 “The plan is to contain and destroy them where they currently are,” said Mr Oguna, as he addressed the media on Tuesday.

A statement on the Locust Watch website reveals a mature swarm is headed to Kenya through Marsabit County from the southwest region of Teltele in Ethiopia. 

Swarms of immature locusts forming in central Somalia and eastern Ethiopia are expected to be moving south towards southern Somalia and southeast Ethiopia where they could start arriving in northeast Kenya this weekend. This movement is anticipated to increase during the remainder of December and into January.

“Extreme vigilance and preparedness is required in Kenya,” reads a statement by Locust Watch.

A Kenya Police reserve member walks through a swarm of desert locusts within a grazing land in Lemasulani village, Samburu County, Kenya January 17, 2020. [Njeri Mwangi, Reuters]

Oguna explained to the media that two bases have already been established in Mandera and Witu in Lamu County. An extra six bases that served as control bases during the first wave of the invasion have been reactivated to aid in the control of what Oguna suspects will be a second wave from the pests.

The bases are in Isiolo County, Masinga in Embu County, Marsabit, Lodwar, Wajir and Garissa.

Another strategy involves using aircraft to offer surveillance and spray the pest in different regions. There are four aircrafts currently helping out in the activity—two surveillance aircrafts and two spray aircraft.

“A surveillance aircraft is in Garissa base and it is covering Garissa, Wajir and Mandera Counties. Another surveillance aircraft is in Lamu covering the coastal region,” said Oguna.

One spray aircraft will be station in Wajir and will cover the entire northeastern region while the one is stationed at Lamu and covers Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Lamu County.

The government spokesperson also confidently flexed the government muscle stating that they are well equipped with enough pesticides to the tune of about 200,000 litres that have already been deployed to the respective regions facing the disastrous impact of locusts.

Desert locusts are seen on a tree at a ranch near the town on Nanyuki in Laikipia county, Kenya, February 21, 2020. [Baz Ratner, Reuters]

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“We also have a stock of about half a million litres of assorted pesticides, so all is well.”

According to Mr Oguna, the government has also sorted the help of 100 National Youth Service personnel who will help to boost ground surveillance and control in Witu base. The NYS officials will work together with the trained extension officers deployed to all affected counties.

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