Brian (centre) and his fellow servicepeople worked hard for an amazing result: Kenya is now desert locust-free. ©FAO/Luis Tato

Becoming heroes in the fight against desert locusts

13/10/2021

When Kenya suffered an unprecedented wave of desert locusts in early 2020, it spelled disaster for thousands of farmers and rural communities. The arid and semi-arid lands of the country, where the most vulnerable smallholders and agropastoralists dwell, were a prime feeding ground for the pest. Like a living carpet, hopper bands covered large swathes of land, and swarms reached the most remote of locations.

Sergeant Brian Odhiambo of the Kenyan National Youth Service (NYS) remembers how worried he was. “Desert locusts feed on pasture and crops that our country depends on. This means that there'll be no food on our tables,” he thought. “When a family goes to the farm and what they had farmed has been eaten up by the desert locusts, there is going to be hunger. Our children cannot go to school hungry.”