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Fight locusts at border points, herders urge government

Thursday January 30 2020

Locusts on a tree in Turkana County

Locusts on a tree in Turkana County on January 20, 2020. Herders in pastoral counties have appealed to the government to focus on countering desert locusts at border points with Somalia. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WAWERU WAIRIMU
By WAWERU WAIRIMU
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Herders in pastoralist counties have appealed to the government to focus on countering desert locusts at the borders of Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit and Mandera to prevent further destruction.

The four counties have in the last two weeks been dealing with fresh invasions with a total of six swarms reported on Wednesday alone.

The six swarms include two that continue to wreak havoc in Samburu National Reserve, threatening food security for park animals, and others in Ngorishe and Reteti.

NEW INVASIONS

Two other swarms also invaded Wajir County while another was on Wednesday evening spotted entering Isiolo South through Eldera on the county’s border with Garissa.

The swarms have invaded Isiolo, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu, Mandera, Kitui, Embu, Machakos, Tana River, Baringo and Turkana counties.

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Kinoti Lengures, a resident of Wamba in Samburu East, questioned the effectiveness of the Sh230 million aerial spraying campaign, arguing that more resources should be concentrated at the border points.

He expressed fear that their animals, which they rely on to support their families, may starve to death due to destruction of thousands acres of fodder.

MORE RESOURCES

“The government must allocate more resources and concentrate the campaign at our border points with Somalia in order to prevent fresh invasions. We fear losing our livestock if the situation is not contained soonest possible,” said Mr Lengures.

The locusts recently destroyed 900,000 acres and more than 13,000 square kilometres of pasture in Isiolo and Mandera counties respectively.

Isiolo Agriculture Chief Officer Salad Tutana told the Nation that they are battling more than 30 swarms in all the affected counties with Samburu being the worst hit as it is fighting 14 swarms with fresh invasions being reported.

Gabriel Leledu, a resident of Kipsing in Isiolo, said destruction of pasture is likely to fuel community clashes and called for immediate intervention to prevent fresh invasions.

PESTICIDES

“We appreciate the effort the government has made so far but a lot has to be done in terms of preventing fresh swarms from getting into the country,” he said.

The appeal comes at a time when the government is struggling with strained resources with some counties having run out of pesticides and planes provided by private firms reportedly lacking fuel.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga recently said the war on locusts is constrained by shortage of personnel, unavailability of pesticides in local markets and poor network connectivity.

Samburu Special Programmes Chief Officer Daniel Leisagor said they are monitoring locust roosting sites ahead of the expected delivery of pesticides Thursday morning.