The government plans to assist communities affected by locusts invasion to rebuild their livelihoods, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has said.
While launching an impact assessment team to evaluate the damage impact that desert locusts have caused in the various counties, the CS noted that the report they get will provide a direction that the government will pursue in terms of extending support to the affected communities.\
“Most communities mainly in the Arid and Semi-arid areas have been complaining of loss of livestocks because the vegetation has been depleted by the pests”, Munya said
He explained that although work had been delayed a bit due to preparations it will now kick off through the Red Cross who have been contracted by the Food Agriculture Authority (FAO) to carry the assessment.
“The first meeting with the CECs of Agriculture will take off this Friday and County Units can start doing the assessment with the community affected and also leaders who have been on the ground “, Munya said.
Dr. Tobias Takavarasha, FAO Country Representative said the fight against hunger has been facing attack from desert locust and for any intervention to come to assist the damages, there is need for scientific data .
This assessment which FAO has funded to a tune of Ksh 42 million will look at the areas affected, the acreage affected , the people affected and also the effects of livelihood so that government can make decision on what recoveries efforts are needed to rebuild what farmers have lost”, he said.
Dr. Takavarasha the exercise to be carried out by Red Cross will be able to also guide the government on future preparedness of issues of locusts despite the containment measures that are there and they have reduced.
Red Cross Secretary General, Dr. Asha Mohamed said the locust invasion has come at a time even as the country deals with Covid 19 pandemic and Flood but assured that the assessment will be done in 16 counties and that on 15th June 2020 they will give a preliminary report before giving a final report on July 15, 2020.
“We will employ different methods , interviews of key informers, focus groups discussions at community level , desk review, and more important deploy technology where we will be using satellite imagery and drones for some areas that cannot be reached”, she said.
Based on past experience, Dr. Mohammed said they have confidence and capability to lead the team in actualizing the project and the report will enable Government mount a sustainable programme to fully tame the locusts.
The locust menace in the country had spread to 27 counties but efforts by the government and development partners have yielded results as huge swarms have been contained in most regions leaving a few namely Isiolo, Samburu, Marsabit, Turkana and parts of Lakipia who are still experiencing them
Tiampati Leleti a resident and village leader in the Samburu county recently confirmed that he has lost crops even as his livestock suffer due to the locusts.
By Wangari Ndirangu