Kenya is warning of a looming drought in 10 counties that have been battling desert locusts in the past one year.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa issued a drought alert in Kilifi, Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera, Samburu, Tana River, Wajir, Lamu, Marsabit and Turkana counties.
“This calls for anticipatory action will go a long way in building the resilience of the communities in the affected counties,” he said.
“The onset of the long rains was expected from mid to late March in most areas through June in Western, Upper Rift Valley and Coastal regions; but cessation was observed in the other areas by end of May,” said Lawrence Omuhaka, Chief Administrative Secretary in Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.
Mr Omuhaka chaired the EAC Sectoral Council on Agriculture in Arusha on behalf of the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya.
Kenya’s drought response plan requires Ksh9.4 billion for the July-November period, Ksh5.8 billion for food and safety net support and Ksh3.6 billion for non-food interventions.
According to a consolidated regional June 2021 report by the East African Community titled “Food Security Status Report,” food security in the region had remained stable in the past one and-a-half years, despite challenges of volatile food prices, desert locust impacts, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The long rains crop production forecast for 2021 in Kenya was generally depressed for most areas.
Meanwhile, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is urging continued surveillance to control the desert locusts that are now in Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen.
“Effective survey and control operations in northern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia are key in reducing breeding that will occur in northeast Ethiopia from now until September,” warns FAO in its July 2021 report on desert locusts.
While Kenya may be off the hook, seasonal rains have commenced in Afar in Tigray areas of Ethiopia and above normal rainfall are expected during the next four weeks that will allow one generation of breeding between now and September.
“The swarms will complete maturation and lay eggs that should begin to hatch in early August, giving rise to hopper bands, which could eventually lead to the formation of new immature swarms from late September onwards,” the report says.