Kenya secures $43 million from World Bank for desert locust response

File photo: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, a group of desert locusts mate on the ground in Nasuulu Conservancy, northern Kenya. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis).
Gregarious locusts congregate on some ground vegetation at Larisoro village near Archers Post. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

The World Bank on Thursday said it had approved 4.6 billion shillings (43 million U.S. dollars) credit to help Kenya respond to the threat posed by the desert locust outbreak and to strengthen the government’s system for preparedness.

Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank country director for Kenya said the locust attack could worsen food security later this year and a possible rise in food prices without immediate intervention.

“We are working with other development partners to provide, restore and enhance the livelihoods of affected farmers, pastoralists and vulnerable households that have been affected by the locust attack and are food insecure,” he said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The East Africa nation has suffered from the worst desert locust invasion in 70 years that has affected the already vulnerable northern region of the country.

The locust swarms, which crossed into Kenya from Ethiopia and Somalia in December 2019 and have since spread to 28 counties, pose a severe food security threat to about three million people.

The World Bank said the emergency locust response project will provide immediate surveillance and locust management measures to halt the spread of the pests.

Vinay Kumar Vutukuru, World Bank Task Team Leader for Kenya said the project will further strengthen the ministry of agriculture’s ongoing efforts in managing the locust attack.