Kenya: Locust Invasion in Northern, Eastern Regions Threatens Food Security


Eight counties in Kenya are staring at hunger following a fresh invasion by small mature swarms of desert locusts from neighbouring Somalia that continue to devour vegetation and grasslands.

The ravenous pests that were blown by the strong northerly winds have invaded northern and eastern regions of Mandera, Garissa, Isiolo, Kitui, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties and destroyed crops and grass, threatening food security for residents and livestock.

Coupled with few hopper bands that have started forming in Samburu County — which has been battling infestations throughout the year — the government faces a difficult task of containing the locusts which could start laying eggs any time.

Disaster response teams in Samburu are using special drones equipped with mapping sensors to spray the destructive pests, with the technology proving effective in handling pests in inaccessible remote areas.

Samburu Special Programmes Chief Officer Daniel Leisagor said most of the swarms in the county are almost maturing and could start breeding any time due to the cool environment brought about by the ongoing short rains.

Heading to Tanzania

The swarms in Taita Taveta, the latest to be invaded, were last spotted heading towards north east Tanzania and landed in Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga areas, reducing the threat on vegetation in the county in the coming few days.

In latest forecast, UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao) has warned that the risk remains high in northern Kenya where the locusts could lay eggs in sandy areas and that hatching and band formation could start in early December.