Kenya has received Sh369 million from Japan for fighting desert locusts. This is following the recent locust invasion that has left a lot of farmers devastated in the country.
In a statement on Thursday, Japan said 80,000 people will benefit from the grant which is to be handled by the World Food Program (WFP).
The Asian country has also extended similar aid to Somalia and Djibouti, which have equally been ravaged by the migratory insects, bringing its entire package to the three Horn of Africa States to Sh768.75 million ($7.5m)
“Kenya received $3.6 million, Somalia $3.1 million while Djibouti got $0.8 million,” said Japanese government on Thursday in a statement issued by its embassy in Nairobi.
In its recent alert, the Food and Agricultural Organisations (FAO) says widespread swarm breeding continues in Northern and Central Kenya, with further concentration expected in the counties of Marsabit and Turkana.
In a memo dated March 10, it noted that this may be supplemented by new-generation immature swarms arriving from Somalia.
“The situation remains extremely alarming in the Horn of Africa, specifically Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, where widespread breeding is in progress and new swarms are starting to form, representing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the upcoming cropping season,” it said.
Immature swarms, the agency added, are also present in the south, where cross-border movements are likely from adjacent areas of Somalia and Kenya.
“Late instar hopper bands, maturing adult groups, fledgelings and immature adult groups have been spotted in Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea,” the FAO said.
Areas Affected in Kenya
The locusts in the desert were first seen in Wajir and Mandera counties and have made their way to Samburu, Isiolo, Garissa, Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia, Meru, Kitui, Embu, Machakos, Murang’a, Makueni and Kajiado.
Nairobi has tried to combat the worst locust invasion in 70 years through aerial spraying of pesticides but the number of those entering the country each day and breeding is overwhelming.
According to statistics from Samburu County’s Special Programmes Department, the new generation bred in Kenya is already flying to Lekiji, Melepo Moo, Sesia and Mabati in Samburu East, decimating crops.
The voracious insects have a strong preference for graminaceous plants such as millet and maize.
Experts estimate that the insects are capable of destroying at least 200 tonnes of vegetation per day.
Swarms can travel up to 130km (80 miles) per day and a kilometre-wide swarm can contain up to 80 million locusts, according to the FAO.
How Drone Technology Can Help
Scientists from Kenya’s Entomological Society recommended advanced drone technology to contain locusts in various parts of the country that are devastating farms and pasturing fields.
They noted that aircraft deployed by the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct aerial spraying are insufficient for huge swarms.
According to Dr Muo Kasina, the society’s chairman, the aircraft cannot areas such as deep valleys and mountain contours, where some of the locusts may be.
The FAO states that this is the worst invasion of desert locusts in the Horn of Africa in 25 years.
It poses an unprecedented threat to food security in the entire sub-region, with more than 19 million people in East Africa already experiencing a high degree of food insecurity.
How Kenya Will Benefit From the Grant
The grant will help fight the effects of the infestation that has put the entire region at the risk of famine. In Somalia, the grant will help in the provision of relief assistance to about 28,000 people to improve nutrition.
In Djibouti, the funds will support 1,410 small-scale farmers through resilience building and food assistance.
For Kenya, the support comes just days after the World Bank and African Development Bank disbursed Sh1.4 billion and Sh500 million respectively to boost the fight against these insects.
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