The Solution To The Locust Invasion In East Africa

In its fight against the locust invasion, Uganda has approved 1.8 million dollars towards fighting this epidemic. This was approved by the Ugandan cabinet after it was brought to light that 3 million dollars out of the 4 million dollars released before, had been used to offset membership arrears to the Desert Locust Control Organization for East Africa (DLCO-EA). Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti are all member states of DLCO-EA. According to Mr Byantwale Tibaijuka, commissioner for crop protection, the desert locust crossed into Uganda from Kenya and have spread to at least six districts. These locusts were first spotted on February 9th in the Karamoja region, the eastern part of Uganda. Further, Mr Byantwale said that the additional funding was for aircraft activities and that they were negotiating with Kenya to have three air crafts help in spraying the procured spray.

200 motorized pumps, 300 knapsack spray pumps, and 10,000 liters of chemical spray have been deployed so far. This is according to the Minister of State for animal husbandry, Aggrey Bagiire. The minister further mentioned that an expert from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and another from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were helping alongside national experts in addressing this desert locust epidemic.

The locust invasion was first reported last year in the middle-east in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Africa is now experiencing its worst locust invasion having been invaded through Ethiopia and Somalia. If this locust epidemic is not dealt with immediately, it will cause catastrophic destruction and massive land degradation, and economically damage range lands and croplands. According to an article written by Githinji Kamotho, here are some of the measures that the Kenyan government should implement in its fight against this locust epidemic: First, is the use of jet fighters, fireworks and grenades that generate sound decibel above 130 dB in areas the desert locust are pasturing and feeding. This makes the locust instantly perish. Powerful equipment,  such as mobile discos, help in rerouting and incapacitating the locust. Second, is the use of mobile cordon mesh fences where old and fragile grasshoppers will be trapped and harvested. Third, through the Forest Users Associations, Forest Conservators and affected community groups, and National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF), there should be collection and preservation of the desert locust in silo storage for manufacturing. These manufactured locusts can be used as supplements for fish, pigs and dog food industries. With a ready market nationally and internationally, this will create job opportunities for the youth and contribute towards the country’s GDP.

The article further discouraged the use of air pesticides as a method of controlling the desert locust, as they pose a fatal problem to animals and insects that compliment the ecosystem. Therefore, we advise the government to embrace other alternatives which are environmental friendly, safe and secure.

Rachel Kaburi