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Locusts threaten to trigger conflicts in Samburu

Wednesday February 19 2020
BONPIC

Samburu pastoralists graze their livestock. Locusts have destroyed pasture in Samburu County. PHOTO | FILE | AFP

By GEOFFREY ONDIEKI

The invasion of desert locusts in Samburu is now threatening to trigger conflicts over grazing fields among pastoralist communities.

Statistics from the Samburu County Special Programmes Department show that more than 70,000 acres of vegetation cover and pasture in Samburu East have been destroyed by locusts.

The reports indicate that, with vegetation virtually cleared in most parts of Samburu East, pastoralists are now scrambling for pasture, which could lead to conflicts.

“Communities in Samburu East have already started moving around in search of pasture. We fear this could prompt clashes,” County Special Programmes chief officer Daniel Lesaigor said.

He said the insects pose a threat to livestock and food security, adding that Samburu East Sub-County is the most hit.

Other affected areas are Waso, Westgate and Nkoriche in Baragoi.

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“Our weekly impact assessment reports indicate that large parts of Samburu East have been greatly affected,” he said.

“The impact of this invasion has already been felt. Pasture is almost exhausted, which may trigger death and starvation of animals if drought strikes any time from now,” said Mr Lesaigor.

NYS

On Monday, fresh swarms descended on Samburu East from neighbouring Isiolo.

The pests have destroyed crops and pasture.

On Monday, the government deployed 85 National Youth Service trainees to Samburu in a bid to boost the spraying of chemicals to eliminate the insects.

So far, 17 counties, including Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, Isiolo, Garissa, Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia, Meru, Kitui, Embu, Machakos, Murang’a, Makueni and Kajiado have been affected.

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