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Sh2.4b EU aid to fight locusts, assist farmers

Tuesday May 19 2020

Locusts

Farmers display dead locusts in Mwingi County on February 18, 2020. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SARAH NANJALA
By SARAH NANJALA
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Kenya is set to get Sh2.4 billion from the European Union (EU) to assist in the fight against locusts, and support affected farmers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement to the media Tuesday, the EU noted that countries within Europe under the banner “Team Europe” have put together a Sh16 billion package to bolster food security in Kenya and neighbouring countries.

The support, which came from the EU, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden and Denmark, will cover financial and logistical support to farmers and small and medium enterprises.

With more than 20 affected counties, the financial aid will bring relief to farmers whose produce has been lost due to the locust invasion.

“The purpose of the support is to strengthen value chains in the horticulture, dry land crops and dairy sectors. The integration of food security and water programmes is a crucial component of this effort, with the ultimate aim being to build resilience and ensure longer-term food security,” a statement released by the EU read.

Last month, the Food and Agriculture Organization warned that new swarms expected to hatch this month will be up to 20 times larger than the previous ones. It said that this could cause an unprecedented threat to food security in the region.

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The EU noted that the coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the food situation, noting that prevention and control measures have created additional challenges to the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.

As of last month, more than 240,000 hectares had been treated with chemical pesticides and bio-pesticides across the region. However, movement restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic has hindered the supply of motorized sprayers and pesticides.

The EU stated that the aid will also be used to support both refugees and their host communities, as well as for the treatment of acute malnutrition and boosting the overall health situation through the provision of basic services.

“With some 25 million people already at risk of food shortages in the region, the desert locust upsurge is an additional threat to food security and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable communities,” the statement read.

In addition to this support, the EU is contributing Sh35 billion towards Kenya’s response to the coronavirus, with other EU member states providing another Sh3.3 billion.