Kenya: UN earmarks Sh164 million to combat locust upsurge

The United Nations (UN) has earmarked the sum of Sh164 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to combat the locust outbreak in Kenya.

Under-Secretary-General, Mark Lowcock, the UN Humanitarian Chief, disclosed the release of the money to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), via his Twitter handle.

“I am allocating Sh164million ($1.5m dollars) from UNCERF for desert locust control operations in Kenya,” he said.

Lowcock further revealed that since early 2020, locusts control in Eastern Africa and Yemen has affected the production of food enough to feed about 18 million people a year.

The allocated fund, he added, would be targeted at control operations, including air and ground surveillance and pesticide spraying.

However, swarms have so far been reported in Mandera, Garissa, Marsabit, Tana River and Wajir.

Deputy spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, Mr. Farhan Haq, said that since December 21st of 2020, numerous swarms have started to converge in Eastern Ethiopia and Central Somalia following Cyclone Gati [The most powerful tropical storm ever to hit Somalia].

“They have been entering into northeast Kenya and are likely to spread throughout northern and central counties,” Haq said.

FAO has notified that its locust response plan may run till June but says it needs funds to contain the situation in that region before it escalates out of proportion.

It revealed that if not controlled, the swarms could destroy crops and pasture and endanger the livelihoods and food security of over 3.6 million residents across the region and in Yemen.

Partners and donors have committed Sh22.3 billion to support the effort of FAO, following their appeal last month for additional funding to enable it to scale up operations against pests in East Africa.

Via this funding, FAO and the government have been able to enhance locust response capacity in a country that has never been plagued by pest this magnitude in decades.

Over 1,500 ground survey and control personnel have been trained, 110 vehicles mounted ground sprayers and 20 aircraft are now in action, FAO said.

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