Official wants locust invasion declared a national disaster

Desert locusts that invaded Gurar in Wajir North. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • More locust swarms have been spotted in parts of Wajir South despite government carrying out aerial spraying.

A top agricultural official from Wajir County has urged the national government to declare the locust invasion that is wreaking havoc in several parts of the country a national disaster.

This is after it emerged that more swarms of locusts had been spotted in parts of Wajir South on Thursday evening even after the government had carried out aerial spraying in the devolved unit.

"We have all seen the effects of this invasion and I think it's time the government should declare it a national disaster to pave way for more resources to be mobilised," Wajir County Chief Executive for Agriculture Ahmed Shariff told the Nation yesterday.

His sentiments come at a time when the desert locusts, which invaded Kenya from neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia, continue their advance into other parts of the country.

On Thursday, newly-appointed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya admitted that the pesticides being used in aerial spraying had proved ineffective, thus dulling efforts to get rid of the flying pests.

Wajir, Mandera and Garissa counties were first hit by the invasion before the insects munched their way into Marsabit, Isiolo, Meru, Samburu and Laikipia counties even as the government continues to step up its efforts to end the menace.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in a recent update warned that more swarms will invade these areas, while others will move north of Mt Kenya westwards to Baringo County and continue northwest to Turkana county.

According to Mr Shariff, a total of 15 swarms of locusts have so far invaded Wajir from Somalia and Ethiopia.

He said seven swarms were repelled through aerial spraying while eight swarms were pushed away by combined efforts of residents and other stakeholders including security officers.

Mr Shariff has challenged the government to step up its efforts in aerial spraying as it has proved the most effective method.

He added that more chemicals should be sent to the northern region to prevent another invasion.

He warned that Wajir County could soon experience a repeat invasion as one swarm of locusts is currently migrating into the county from Somalia via the eastern side of the border in Gerille area.

The agricultural department has also warned that the colony of locusts currently in Mandera could migrate into the county.

The FAO has said that there is an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the country due to the invasion.