Kenya: Locusts Now in Meru, Isiolo Counties

Red locust (file photo).
9 January 2020

The desert locusts that have ravaged north eastern Kenya have made their way to Meru and Isiolo Counties even as government officials downplayed their threat.

On Tuesday evening, residents of Ndumuru in Igembe North reported spotting several colonies of the destructive pests.

More swarms of the locusts have also invaded neighbouring Garbatulla and Merti areas in Isiolo County.

Ndumuru Chief Romano Muchiri said the locusts, which are in nymph (wingless) stage, have been spotted in several groups feeding on shrubs.

Igembe North Deputy County Commissioner Charles Langat said government officials were monitoring the situation, adding that there was no cause for alarm.

"The locusts have been spotted but their population is not big. They are currently feeding on euphorbia trees. We will ensure that they are contained before they pose a threat to vegetation in the area," Mr Langat said.

In Isiolo, County Commissioner Narman Shambi said the swarms of locust had covered up to 3,000 square kilometres of land in Garbatulla and Merti.

According to Meru County Agriculture executive Carol Mutiga, the crop protection department of the Ministry of Agriculture had promised to dispatch aircraft to conduct aerial spraying.

"The situation is not very bad but the crop protection desk will be giving priority to Meru because their spread will be disastrous. My officers are monitoring the situation and the regional locust control body is helping," Ms Mutiga said.

The invasion of locusts comes five days after Meru Jubilee Party chairman Joseph Muturia warned that the pests would soon reach the county from Wajir if not contained on time.

Mr Muturia called on the government to pump in more resources into fighting the desert locusts that have ravaged the north eastern region to avert famine.

Mr Muturia, who says he witnessed a locust invasion in Meru in 1948, accused the government of knee jerk reactions to disaster.

"Based on my experience, if these locusts spread to Meru and other areas where people depend on food and cash crops, it will be a major disaster. It seems those in government have never experienced locust invasions and its impact. The 1948 invasion led to a bad famine," Mr Muturia said.

He called on the government to work closely with the Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Desert Locust control committee to ensure the situation is contained.

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