A member of Kenya's National Youth Service sprays pesticides in an area infested with hopper bands of desert locust near Lokichar, Turkana County, Kenya. ©FAO/Luis Tato

Kenya beats back desert locust upsurge for now but East Africa remains at risk


Q&A with Cyril Ferrand, FAO’s Resilience Team Leader for East Africa

How is the Desert Locust campaign in East Africa going?

At the moment FAO is fighting the second generation of Desert Locusts. We have made significant progress in a number of countries, especially in Kenya, where only two of the 29 counties that were infested in February have Desert Locusts today. In the coming days, that will drop to one county, and within three weeks Kenya should be free of large-scale infestations altogether. That is a success but the threat of possible re-infestation towards the end of the year will call for careful and continued surveillance. 

Unfortunately, Ethiopia is still infested with a second breeding generation, and also partly re-infested by swarms from Kenya. Ethiopia is also under threat from new swarms arriving from Yemen. A lot of work has been done in Ethiopia but unfortunately the battle will continue there until the end of the year. In Somalia we are also making progress, despite security issues, but breeding is expected in the north. We expect summer locust breeding in the Sudan and western Eritrea also.

We know we cannot defeat an upsurge of Desert Locusts globally in only a few months. Of course the locust situation in Yemen and Southwest Asia remains a concern -- but I have to say when it comes to East Africa, we have made a lot of progress in the entire region, where expertise was very low at the beginning. Some of the affected countries had not seen Desert Locusts for decades - in the case of Kenya it was 70 years. Of course, there is still a need to build up monitoring and response capacity across the region, to be ready if a renewed upsurge occurs.

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