Counties

FAO warns of fresh locust invasion in Turkana, Samburu

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Kenya was the hardest hit with the locust invasion compared with her East African counterparts. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) urged Kenya to watch out for the expected migration of the swarms into its territory.
  • In a recent forecast, the UN agency notes that the situation in the two countries, where more swarms have formed, and breeding continues, remains critical.

A campaign to eradicate a devastating locust invasion in Samburu and Turkana counties may take longer after experts warned of a fresh wave of invasion by swarms currently breeding in neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) urged Kenya to watch out for the expected migration of the swarms into its territory.

In a recent forecast, the UN agency notes that the situation in the two countries, where more swarms have formed, and breeding continues, remains critical.

New invasion

New swarms are expected to form by mid-December in Ethiopia and Somalia, which could move to northern Kenya where aerial and ground control continues. The new invasion poses a threat to livestock in the region yet to recover from the effects of the first attack.

In Ethiopia, several swarms are present along west and eastern edges in Afar and Somalis. A new generation of breeding has already started in the far eastern portion of the Somali region where hatching and hopper bands are forming.

The agency has predicted more laying, hatching and band formation in the country in the coming few days.

Hatching and band formation that started days ago in Somalia is expected to increase.

Disaster response teams in Samburu have already warned of the second wave of invasion after seven swarms were spotted in the county last week.

According to the October 26 forecast, a few small maturing swarms persist in Samburu and local breeding could occur in the northwest as the ongoing short rains offer favourable survival environment.

Samburu special programmes chief officer Daniel Leisagor said ground and aerial surveillance was ongoing to determine whether the swarms spotted last week are part of the new invasion or survivors from previous invasions.

Voracious pests

While the FAO had in past report predicted that the swarms in Ethiopia and Somalia could land in Kenya in mid-November, the new report, notes that there will be low-risk that the voracious pests will arrive in two weeks.

Increased rainfall in the Horn of Africa creates ideal breeding conditions for the locusts.

In Sudan, more hatching and hopper bands have formed between Atbara River and the Red Sea Hills. Some of the hoppers are fledging and forming groups of immature adults.