Uganda Approves U.S.$1.8 Million in Efforts to Fight Locust Invasion

(file photo).

The Ugandan Cabinet on Monday approved an extra Ush7 billion ($1.8 million) to help in the fight against the locust invasion.

This was after it came to light that $3 million of the initial $4 million released for the same was used to pay membership arrears to the Desert Locusts Control Organisation for East Africa (DLCO-EA).

The regional body draws membership from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti.

The EastAfrican learnt that even after paying the arrears, Uganda still owes the organisation an extra $2 million. Uganda, together with Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia, are the main defaulters.

The EastAfrican learnt that Uganda last paid its fees as a member 40 years ago when it joined the organisation in 1980.

Mr Evarist Magara, the Country Representative for DLCO-EA, told The EastAfrican, "each member partner is supposed to pay $120,000 per year." Mr Magara said Uganda's debt had grown to $5 million accumulated over nearly 30 years of non-payment. Sudan is said to owe $6 million.

Mr Byantwale Tibaijuka, Commissioner for Crop Protection, said the locusts, which crossed into Uganda from Kenya last weekend, have spread to at least six districts since first being sighted on February 9 in Karamoja region in the eastern side of the country.

"The extra Ush7 billion approved will be used for aircraft activities," Mr Byantwale said adding, "negotiations are ongoing to have three aircrafts from Kenya to help spray the procured pesticides."

The Minister of State for animal husbandry, Aggrey Bagiire, said Tuesday that 200 motorised pumps, 300 knapsack spray pumps, and 10,000 litres of chemical spray have been deployed so far. Government has deployed 2,000 soldiers to push back the locusts.

Mr Bagiire says an expert from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and another from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) were helping together with national experts.

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