Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Desert Locust upsurge of 2019/2021 affected many countries in The Horn of Africa. The first wave arrived in Kenya in December 2019. By July 2020, approximately 9.4% and 6.3% of cropland and pastureland had been affected respectively. The second wave arrived in November 2020. These swarms crossed into Kenya from Ethioipa and Somalia. Swarms from Ethiopia crossed through Mandera and Marsabit, while swarms from Somalia crossed through Mandera, Wajir and to a small extent through Garissa. This influx peaked in mid-January and began to reduce.

Second wave Desert Locust swarms have been sighted in 22 counties. They include Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Kitui, Machakos, Kajiado, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Laikipia, Ntandarua, Murang’a, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Isiolo, Samburu, and Marasbit. Though many counties have reported swarms, the list is dominated by counties in pastoral areas. Significantly affected pastoral counties include Mandera, Wajir and Samburu. Other counties have experienced crop losses and they include Laikipia, Embu, Meru, Machakos and Kitui.

Survey and control operation have been ongoing  since November 2020 when the influx of second wave began. Responsible teams in coordination with focal persons in the affected counties have decimated many swarms. Generally, the situation is under control save for the few swarmlets in sensitive areas. Control operation is at the tail end and the team project to achieve a record of more than 95% kill in under three months of operation. Onset of rains however may complicate the management plan as this may enhance maturation of immature adults.

By George Ongamo, Entomologist