STANDARD 13 APR 2020
Kenya has landed an additional Sh2 billion from the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to help fight the resurgence of the desert locusts.
The new funds that have already been disbursed.This brings the country’s total arsenal for fighting the locusts to Sh4 billion, with experts painting an optimistic outlook that the infestation will not significantly harm food security. “Previously, funding was a major constraint to FAO’s procurement of pesticides and equipment for the surveillance and aerial and ground control of desert locusts,” explained the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) in its latest Kenya report.
However, donors have made contributions to the control efforts with 93 per cent of the required funds received,” explained the report.
“It is most likely that the impacts of the desert locusts will be significantly mitigated given the procurement of the necessary equipment for ground and air operations.”Worst infestationFEWS Net, however, warns that mitigation efforts will likely continue to be limited by insecurity in areas along the Kenya-Somali border, notably Mandera.
Large swarms of desert locusts hit the East African region at the beginning of this year, with farmers in Kenya recording the worst infestation in seven decades.Experts say the locust swarms are currently maturing and laying eggs with a much larger swarm, almost 20 times, expected to hit farmers in the coming weeks.
Food security fears amid warning locust invasion could growFAO had requested for Sh15.3 billion for fighting the locusts across Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda but received Sh11.4 billion.Last month, the World Bank approved the disbursement of Sh1.4 billion from the lender’s Sh25 billion Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project to boost the fight against the pests.
An additional Sh400 million has been received from the African Development Fund. FAO believes proper mitigation efforts will shield the country from food insecurity even as the UN body cautioned that further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic could pose a greater challenge.“A daily curfew from 19:00 to 05:00 became effective March 28th, which will likely constrain the transportation of food commodities and market operations,” explains the UN body in its report.“In the long term, the impact on market supply could increase already above-average staple food prices, further reducing household purchasing power.”
FAO further warned that the spread of Covid-19 in refugee camps, including Dadaab and Kakuma could lead to high infection rates.