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Locals resort to desperate measures to fight locust invasion

Friday January 03 2020
locust pix

Locusts have invaded parts of Wajir and Mandera counties in recent days. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRUHAN MAKONG

Residents of Wajir and Mandera counties have resorted to desperate methods to scare away armies of desert locusts that invaded parts of the devolved units five days ago from neighbouring Somalia.

Affected residents have resorted to shouting, honking of vehicles, striking metallic objects and whistling to get rid of the insects that have left a trail of destruction in their wake.

According to reports, other residents recited the Koran to get rid of the flying pests.

In some areas, police, who were providing security to residents, were seen shooting in the air to scare away the locusts.

"Police may have used rubber bullets in some instances to scare away the pests but they were there specifically to provide the residents with security as the area is a terror hotspot," Hassan Gure, a county agricultural official, said.

GOVERNMENT MUM

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All this comes as the government remains mum on the invasion that is threatening to wipe out much-needed animal pasture.

The unusual methods, however, seem to have yielded results as the first group of locusts which had first settled in Kutulo area were successfully repelled to the Wajir-Marsabit border via Tarbaj, Griftu, Qara and Arbajahan areas.

Mr Gure said that by Wednesday evening, the swarms had migrated into Marsabit County.

However, their celebration was short lived as another colony of desert locusts migrated into northern Kenya from Ethiopia on Wednesday evening.

Reports indicate that the flying pests got into the county via Bute and Gurar areas in Wajir North before settling seven kilometres from Bute town.

Residents again spent the better part of Thursday driving away the pests.

SPRAYING

Wajir's agriculture chief officer Noor Mohammed said a helicopter had been dispatched to Mandera for aerial spraying.

"We expect the helicopter to begin aerial spraying by Monday. A vehicle carrying pesticides is also on the way to Wajir," he said.

Officials expressed fear that, if not tackled on time, the swarms of locusts could spread to other areas.

A section of local leaders and residents blamed the government for lack of disaster preparedness and failure to act on time despite knowing that the pests could migrate to Kenya.

ANOTHER SWARM

The residents are staring at a full blown invasion as another swarm from Somalia invaded Kutulo town on Friday.

Mr Gure said this swarm was three times larger than the first one, which arrived four days ago.

He said it was so big that National Police Reservists(NPRs) were allowed to fire rubber bullets in the air to scare them.

Mr Gure said that on Thursday, another swarm entered Wajir via the eastern side and settled in Dadajabula, at the border of Wajir and Garissa.

"This is becoming more and more serious. We fear the locusts will continue migrating to other parts of the county," he said.

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