Kenya: UN Releases Sh164 Million for Fight On Locust Upsurge

The United Nations has set aside Sh164 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to fight a possible desert locust upsurge in Kenya.

The funds will mainly be used in control operations, including air and ground surveillance and pesticide spraying.

Swarms have so far been reported in Mandera, Garissa, Marsabit, Tana River and Wajir.

Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock, the UN humanitarian chief, on Tuesday announced the release of the money to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“I am allocating Sh164million ($1.5m dollars) from UNCERF for desert locust control operations in Kenya,” Mr Lowcock announced on his Twitter handle. Mr Lowcock revealed that since early 2020, locusts control in Eastern Africa and Yemen has affected production of food enough to feed 18 million people for a year.

Mr Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that since December 21 last year, numerous swarms started to form in Eastern Ethiopia and Central Somalia following Cyclone Gati — the most powerful tropical storm ever to hit Somalia.

“They have been entering into northeast Kenya and are likely to spread throughout northern and central counties,” Haq said.

FAO expects its locust response plan to run until June but urgently needs more funds to contain the threat from desert locusts in the region. According to FAO, if not controlled, the swarms could destroy crops and pasture and threaten the livelihoods and food security of 3.6 million people across the region and in Yemen.

Last month, FAO appealed for additional funding to enable it to scale up operations against the pests in East Africa.

So far, partners and donors have committed Sh22.3 billion to support FAO efforts.

The funding has allowed FAO and governments to rapidly scale up locust response capacity in a region that has not faced an upsurge of the pest on this scale in decades.