World Bank injects cash into Kenya’s effort to fight locust invasion

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The World Bank has approved a $43 million International Development Assistance (IDA) credit for Kenya as part of a larger regional Emergency Locust Response Project to respond to the threat posed by the desert locust outbreak and to strengthen Kenya’s system for preparedness.

Kenya is facing the worst desert locust invasion in 70 years that has affected the already vulnerable northern region of the country. The locust swarms, which crossed into Kenya from Ethiopia and Somalia on December 28, 2019 and have since spread to twenty-eight counties, pose a severe food security threat to about 3 million people.

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the current locust situation remains extremely alarming in East Africa where Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia continue to face an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods.

“New swarms from current breeding will form from mid-June onwards, coinciding with the start of the harvest. Thereafter, there is a risk that swarms will migrate to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as well as to Sudan and perhaps West Africa.” The analysis on the locust invasion reads in part.

In Kenya, more hopper bands have been detected in the northwest where control operations are ongoing. Mature swarms are still present in some places and a few of these swarms moved into southeast South Sudan (Kopeata East district) on 14 May and northeast Uganda (Moroto district) on the 20th.

The FAO report also indicated that in South Sudan, earlier breeding is in progress near Torit. “In Sudan, mature gregarious adults reached the White Nile region on the border with South Sudan on the 15th.” The analysis said.

In Ethiopia, control operations continue against breeding in the south as well as hopper bands and several mature swarms further north in the Somali region near northwest Somalia. In Somalia, new hatching started in the past few days in central (Galmudug), northeast (Galkayo), and northwest (Somaliland) areas. In Sudan, rains are forecasted in the southern portion of the summer breeding areas (South Kordofan, White Nile) during the last week of May and again in the second and third weeks of June. If this occurs, then breeding conditions should be improving when swarms are likely to arrive from Kenya and Ethiopia after mid-June.

According to the World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Felipe Jaramillo without immediate intervention, the locust attack could lead to a deterioration in food security towards the end of 2020 and possible rise in food prices.

“We are working with other development partners to provide, restore and enhance the livelihoods of affected farmers, pastoralists and vulnerable households that have been affected by the locust attack and are food insecure.” He added.

The Kenya component of the Emergency Locust Response Project will provide immediate surveillance and locust management measures to halt the spread of the pests.

The fund is expected to protect and restore livelihoods by shielding the poor and vulnerable in locust affected areas from human capital and asset loss. The project will prioritize coordination and early warning preparedness interventions by establishing and strengthening a Locust Control Unit (LCU) within the Plant Protection Services Division (PPSD) of the Ministry of Agriculture at the national level to prevent future outbreaks from spiraling out of control.

“This project will further strengthen the Ministry of Agriculture’s ongoing efforts in managing the locust attack. It will also enable technical support and assistance to the Ministry in enhancing their early warning and preparedness systems and to the counties in restoring livelihoods of the affected pastoralists and farmers,” said World Bank Task Team Leader for Kenya, Vinay Kumar Vutukuru.

World Bank Group Locust Response:

The World Bank Group is mobilizing a $500 million program of emergency financing, complemented by policy advice and technical assistance, to support countries affected by the locust outbreak. The program seeks to help households and communities safeguard their livelihoods and cope with the economic impacts of locust damage on crops, livestock, and related assets, as well as strengthen national systems for preparedness.

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.6 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $21 billion over the last three years, with about 61 percent going to Africa.

Also Read: World Bank projects depressed Global remittances due to COVID-19, locusts

Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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