Thousands of Turkana residents are in need of food relief after a devastating locust invasion decimated their food crops and vegetation, an MP has said.
Turkana North MP Christopher Nakileau on Thursday appealed to the Turkana County government, national government and humanitarian agencies to hasten relief efforts for at least 250,000 people he said are facing starvation.
A locust swarm invaded Turkana County in June and decimated thousands of acres of food crops and vegetation with Kibish and Turkana North sub counties the hardest hit.
“The pastoralists have no pasture for their livestock that forms main source of food after the vast vegetation was damaged by the pests. Drought resistant crops like sorghum and millet were likewise destroyed by locusts, subjecting many households to severe food shortage,” said Turkana North MP Christopher Nakuleau.
The MP said herders have since migrated with their animals to lands near the Ethiopia-South Sudan border in search of pasture and water, where he said, a local militia called Toposa is mobilising to attack herders as competition for scarce resources heats up.
Mr Nakuleau said Mogila, Nanan, Nadapar and Kibish areas have already been attacked as groups compete for resources.
“We urge Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and other peace agencies to support regular meetings to ease the mounting tensions,” said Mr Nakuleau.
Regional leaders blame armed conflicts among pastoralist communities on proliferation of weapons from the war-torn South Sudan.
“The increase of armed conflict along the common border is as a result of spill-over effects of illegal arms into the country,” said Mr Nakuleau.
Several hectares of grazing fields in Ethiopia have also been transformed into farm lands, driving hundreds of Merilee and Nyong’atom pastoralists to Kibish Sub-County in search of pasture and water for their animals and triggering fresh armed conflicts.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch group, about 100,000 hectares of land in Lower Omo valley have been earmarked for commercial agriculture for the cultivation of sugarcane and cotton.