Governor directs formation of county coordination team to spearhead response plan
By Jonathan Teikan
Following the sighting of locusts in various areas in Kajiado County, Governor Joseph ole Lenku has issued a statement seeking to allay residents’ fears about an imminent invasion.
A locust invasion would cause immense damage in the county as the destructive pests would destroy crops as well as vegetation, posing grave danger to livestock.
In the statement issued on Thursday, January 16, Lenku clarified that what has been sighted in Kajiado was the Variegated Grasshopper as opposed to the Desert Locust. “This pest has been spotted in its numbers, in Kajiado East, Kajiado West and Kajiado Central sub–counties, and has already started to have a negative effect on crops and pasture,” said the governor.
He however said that the threat of the Desert Locust, which has caused untold damage in northern Kenya, “is real” and that the county government, “on the advice of pest experts, has begun the process of setting up a disaster preparedness plan against both the Desert Locust and the Variegated Grasshopper.”
The governor added that the insects posed a threat to food security and must be managed “in a manner that eradicates or reduces their negative impact on our farms and grasslands”.
Without going into specifics, Lenku directed the County Department of Agriculture to form a joint county coordination team to spearhead the response plan against the Variegated Grasshopper and the Desert Locust.
The coordination team, in turn, will liaise with the Inter–County Coordination Committee formed with neighbouring counties of Narok, Makueni, Machakos, Kitui and Taita Taveta to deal with the threat of the Desert Locust.
The coordination team has invited “other relevant stakeholders” from both the public and private sectors to partner with it in facing the threat of the migratory pests.
Lenku also directed the coordination team to make a formal request to the Plant Protection Department for pesticides, protective equipment and civic education materials to combat the current threat posed by the Variegated Grasshopper.”
He further directed the County Treasury to make emergency plans to avail “the necessary resources to kickstart monitoring and convening of sensitisation forums to farmers on the pest.”