Counties

Turkana faces hunger as locusts invade crops

ekwam

Jacob Ekwam, shows leave-less trees at Kanukurmeri village in, Kapua, Turkana following locusts invasion on Monday. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

Summary

  • The invasion poses a threat of acute hunger in a region that has experienced recurrent droughts.
  • The county had only started to recover from another invasion last year.
  • The destructive pests have entered Loima sub-county, eating every green matter in Lolemgete, Kankurumeri, Kanyangapus, Kankuridio and Moru Edou villages.

The swarms of locusts that have invaded several parts of the country have spread to Turkana, destroying several hectares of vegetation and food crops.

The invasion poses a threat of acute hunger in a region that has experienced recurrent droughts. The county had only started to recover from another invasion last year.

The destructive pests have entered Loima sub-county, eating every green matter in Lolemgete, Kankurumeri, Kanyangapus, Kankuridio and Moru Edou villages.

According to Kapua Sub-Location Acting Assistant Chief David Eteleg, the locusts locally known as Emathe were feeding on green vegetation cover that is pasture for camels, donkeys, goats and sheep.

“The locusts have reversed gains made in attaining food security despite previous efforts by the county government to control the spread of the pest,” said Mr Eteleg.

Residents said over 10,000 acres of crop and pasture were last year damaged by locusts.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the insects are heading to Baringo and Turkana counties before entering Uganda.

"We want the government and development partners to move with speed and control the insects through aerial spraying," Mr Eteleg said.

When the Business Daily visited Kapua sub-location, the residents were using crude methods including whistles to scare away the locusts.

“Excretes from the swarm of locusts are contaminating water sources and lives of both livestock and humans are at risk,” said Mr Jacob Ekwam, a herder. He expressed fears that their camels will die for lack of pasture unless the government controls the spread of the locusts.

"What used to be green trees at Kapua are now dry standing trees. We don’t know where to get pasture," Mr Ekwam said.

The insects started multiplying immediately after the rains last year.

At the moment, Turkana is on high alert over another possible desert locusts’ infestation nine months after the county government spent Sh27 million to control the insects across the six constituencies.

County Executive for Agriculture, Pastoral Economy and Fisheries Chris Aletia said they will conduct a joint assessment with partners across the county to collect data on locust infested areas.