Kenya Beats Back Fresh Wave of Desert Locust Invasions

SAMBURU COUNTY, KENYA - MAY 21: A man is chasing away a swarm of desert locusts early in the morning, on May 21, 2020 in Samburu County, Kenya. Trillions of locusts are swarming across parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, following an earlier infestation in February. Pastoralist communities like the Samburu in northern Kenya fear the locusts will devastate the rangeland on which their livestock are dependent. (Photo by Fredrik Lerneryd/Getty Images)
SAMBURU COUNTY, KENYA - MAY 21: A man is chasing away a swarm of desert locusts early in the morning, on May 21, 2020 in Samburu County, Kenya. Trillions of locusts are swarming across parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, following an earlier infestation in February. Pastoralist communities like the Samburu in northern Kenya fear the locusts will devastate the rangeland on which their livestock are dependent. (Photo by Fredrik Lerneryd/Getty Images)

(Bloomberg) --

Kenya has cleared most of the second wave of desert locust swarms that entered the country from neighboring Ethiopia and Somalia in mid-November affecting almost a third of the 47 counties in East Africa’s biggest economy.

“The total number of swarms that settled in the country between November 2020 and January 2021 are 75, out of which 66 have been treated,” according to a statement on the Ministry of Agriculture’s website. “The exercise has thus largely been successful,” it said.

The arrival of the new swarms comes after Kenya faced its worst locust invasion in 70 years in 2020 that threatened the food security of millions of people after the insects lay waste to vast swaths of crops. At the height of the infestation 39 of Kenya’s 47 counties reported invasions of the insects that also swamped Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Yemen.

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Preliminary estimates in September last year “indicated that the swarms had flattened about 175,000 hectares of crop and pastureland upsetting the livelihoods of nearly 164,000 households,” according to a statement on the World Bank’s website.

To contain the invasions, Kenya’s government has established eight control bases to coordinate desert-locust management operations. It has also in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization and other agencies trained more than 500 personnel to be stationed at the bases, the Ministry of Agriculture said.“We want to reassure Kenyans that the government is adequately prepared to combat the desert-locust invasion in the country,” the statement said.