The World Bank has given a KSh4.5 billion loan to Kenya to help in the fight against the desert locusts that have infested East Africa.
The loan will be fully repaid in 30-years and it has a five-year grace period. Similar loans will be disbursed to Uganda, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. The four countries will use the money for surveillance and buying pesticides.
The funds have come as the World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Felipe Jaramillo, warns that without necessary action, the locust invasion could lead to a deterioration in food security by the end of 2020 and a possible rise in food prices.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya, says they have almost eliminated the pests and at the moment are battling them in only five counties, after managing to control the rest of the regions which suffered the locust invasion.
The AfDB (The African Development Bank) already approved a $1.5 million (KSh160.5 Mn) emergency relief grant to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) towards fighting off the locusts’ invasion in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The government of Japan also contributed a $7.5 million (KSh802.5 Mn) package to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), towards fighting the locusts outbreak in Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti.
The IGAD warns that the infestation poses an unprecedented risk to livelihoods and food security in an already fragile region and has caused massive damage to agricultural production.
According to recent FAO reports, more than 80% of 1,700 agro-pastoral farms located in 23 production zones in Djibouti have been affected by desert locust infestations. In Kenya, at least 18 of 47 counties have been affected, with more than 70,000 hectares of crops under infestation.
The desert locust is considered the most dangerous migratory pest in the world. The current upsurge, which started in 2019, is the worst in 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia, and the worst in 70 years in Kenya.