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Huge losses as desert locusts invade Kajiado

Residents in Kajiado are counting losses after swarms of desert locusts invaded the county and destroyed pastures and crops.

The locusts have invaded Ilmukutani, Selengei, Masimba, and Lekisim and there are fears from the residents they will spread to other areas.

The residents say the locusts have destroyed a good chunk of pasture in the semi-arid area which majorly depends on livestock rearing for survival.

“We woke up to find our crops and grass eaten by the desert locusts and now we are fearing for our livestock and livelihood if they are not done away with,” said Mercy Lemayian.

Ilmukutani location chief James Lesinko said the swarms invaded the area on Thursday evening after they made their way from the neighbouring Makueni County destroying crops and pasture in the process.

“I received reports on Thursday that swarms of desert locust had landed in the area and I immediately made report to both the county and national government and reinforcement has been brought,” said Mr Lesinko.

Last week, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) warned that at least 23 counties in Kenya are at very high risk of fresh invasion by swarms of desert locusts.

According to ICPAC, Kajiado County was among the counties at very high risk of significant negative impact by the locusts’ invasion.

Others included Garissa, Mandera, Isiolo, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Machakos, Kitui, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Samburu, Kirinyaga, Narok, Migori, West Pokot, Bungoma, Kakamega, Trans Nzoia and Turkana.

Kajiado County Agriculture and Livestock CEC Jackline Koin confirmed the invasion expressing fears that locals are now at risk of famine should the swarms increase in number.

“The swarm first invaded Masimba area after coming from Makueni County. We sprayed them and some left Selengei and Lekisim. We are monitoring them to see where they sleep to spray and decimate them. The locusts eat grass, pasture and crops and can lead to locals going without food,” said Koin.

She said the county government has set aside Sh5 million from its emergency funds to fight off desert locust asking residents to report to either agricultural officers or area chiefs should they spot the locusts.