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IGAD: Uganda, Sudan, Kenya Face New Wave of Locusts

Some parts of East Africa including Eastern Uganda face another invasion of locusts, a regional body has warned.

IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) said in a statement to ChimpReports on Wednesday that “desert locusts are projected to move from:  Samburu areas of Kenya to Turkana and West Pokot; West Pokot, and Turkana areas of Kenya to Eastern Uganda areas of Moroto, Kotido, Pader and Kitgum.”

Other areas expected to face the locust invasion are Jonglei states in South Sudan, Ethiopia and River Nile states in Sudan.

Locusts infested 24 districts in 6 sub-regions of Uganda, including Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Sebei, Teso and Bugisu, since arriving from western Kenya on February 9.

World Bank, which provided $48 Million emergency support to help Uganda manage the threat posed by the Desert Locust, warned that the outbreak could undermine development gains and threaten the food security and livelihoods of millions of Ugandans.

An assessment carried out by Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Program in Karamoja and Teso shows it would cost between $12 million and $42 million to safeguard and restore livelihoods if surveillance and locust management measures are lacking or ineffective.

An estimated 291,000 people are already considered severely food insecure in the two regions, and another 1.32 million people could be at risk.

The locusts, according to IGAD, pose a very high risk of significant impact to both crops and rangelands due to the high rainfall received in the northern parts of the region which has enabled the swarms to migrate.

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Most agro pastoral areas in reproductive stages of crop development have had crops destroyed which will affect crop yield and pasture availability.

Higher than usual rainfall in Sudan, northern Ethiopia and northern Somalia will continue to cause favourable conditions for locust to continue breeding and develop, thus increasing the numbers of swarms even with control measures being undertaken.

According to Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture budget estimates for countering the locusts, the ministry will spend Shs 4.8bn on information dissemination and awareness creation up to the community level; Shs 31bn on surveillance, mapping and monitoring; and Shs 38bn on ground control operations supported in invaded districts.

Another Shs 58bn will be spent on aerial control operations; Shs 3.7bn for environmental safety safeguards; Shs 2.3bn for research and testing of other alternative control measures conducted and Shs 3.2bn for national coordination and regional collaboration for enhanced control of desert locusts control operations.

President Museveni recently said the locusts had been “defeated” by the army teams.

“The UPDF team in that area works with the local people. For example, when the locusts invade the area, they (the local people) inform the nearest spray unit, which moves with torches in the night to spray all the locusts,” said Museveni.

He said the desert locusts had not caused any damage in the invaded areas.

While the Agriculture Ministry had budgeted Shs 58bn for aerial operations, Museveni recently told the nation that, “it is not necessary to use aircraft to spray the locusts as the ground teams were well equipped and able to move even at night.”

The aerial operations include hiring of two additional standby aircrafts at a cost of Shs 20bn; procuring aircraft fuel (aviation fuel and Jet A fuel) at a cost of Shs 531m; procurement of fenitrothion (insecticide) 96% Ultra Low Volume (formulation and spraying technique for chemical control of migratory locusts); and procurement of aircrafts to so support desert locust surveillance at Shs 19bn.

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