Food Security: Kenya secures US$18.8m funding from FAO to fight desert locusts

(200222) -- NAIROBI, Feb. 22, 2020 (Xinhua) -- A swarm of desert locusts invade parts of Mwingi Town in Kitui County, Kenya, Feb. 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)

KENYA – Kenya has landed an additional Sh2 billion (US$18.8m)from the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to help fight the resurgence of the desert locusts.

According to a Standard Media report, this brings the country’s total arsenal for fighting the locusts to Sh4 billion (US$37.7m), with experts painting an optimistic outlook that the infestation will not significantly harm food security.

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“Previously, funding was a major constraint to FAO’s procurement of pesticides and equipment for the surveillance and aerial and ground control of desert locusts,” explained the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) in its latest Kenya report.

“However, donors have made contributions to the control efforts with 93 per cent of the required funds received,” explained the report.  “It is most likely that the impacts of the desert locusts will be significantly mitigated given the procurement of the necessary equipment for ground and air operations.”

Large swarms of desert locusts hit the East African region at the beginning of this year, with farmers in Kenya recording the worst infestation in seven decades.

Experts say the locust swarms are currently maturing and laying eggs with a much larger swarm, almost 20 times, expected to hit farmers in the coming weeks.

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FAO had requested for Sh15.3 billion (US$144.2m) for fighting the locusts across Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda but received Sh11.4 billion (US$107.4m).

Last month, the World Bank approved the disbursement of Sh1.4 billion (US$13.1m) from the lender’s Sh25 billion (US$235.6m) Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project to boost the fight against the pests.

An additional Sh400 million (US$3.7m) has been received from the African Development Fund. FAO believes proper mitigation efforts will shield the country from food insecurity even as the UN body cautioned that further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic could pose a greater challenge.

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