FAO intensifies desert locust control measures in Kenya’s Turkana county

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Gregarious locusts congregate on some ground vegetation at Larisoro village near Archers Post, on January 21, 2020. - The outbreak of desert locusts, considered the most dangerous locust species, is significant and extremely dangerous warned the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation ,Monday, describing the infestation as an eminent threat to food security in months to come if control measures are not taken (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)
Desert locusts are seen in a grazing land in Nakwamuru village, Samburu County, Kenya January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said Saturday it has intensified the desert locust control measures in Turkana County in northwest Kenya.

FAO said it has issued six surveillance vehicles, three pickups mounted with sprayers, one helicopter, two spray airplanes as well as one fixed-wing aircraft for the Kenya-Uganda border surveillance.

“FAO is taking a regional approach to desert locusts control response, and it is important for Turkana to intensify control measures to ensure that the desert locust do not mature and continue to compound the threat to Kenya’s and East Africa’s food security,” said Tobias Takavarasha, FAO Representative to Kenya ad interim.

Takavarasha, who was speaking during the flagging off at Lodwar airstrip, said the donation is in response to the reported sightings of mature copulating swarms last month, which have resulted in the current 200 hopper bands sites in both pasture and farmlands as well as urban centers.

“Turkana is now the epicenter of Desert Locust control measures, with the highest number of hopper band sites reported. The number of counties infested with desert locusts now has reduced from 28 to four counties. That is Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo,” he said.

FAO said it has also collaborated with some partners to support counties to mobilize the movement of ground teams to perform both surveillance and control measures in the most affected counties.

According to the UN, about 3.1 million people in arid and semi-arid areas of the country are food insecure, and increased breeding of desert locusts, coupled with the current flooding as well as COVID-19 pandemic, poses a wider risk of food and pasture shortage.

According to FAO, about 25.3 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda are facing high levels of acute food insecurity, which is 28 percent of the case-load of Africa.

Of these, more than 11 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are located in areas currently affected by the desert locust infestations, said FAO.

It said despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the current floods, desert locust surveillance and control measures continue in earnest.

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