Desert locust infestation declines in Horn of Africa: FAO

(200217) -- NAIROBI, Feb. 17, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Feb. 4, 2020 shows a cloud of locusts flying in Mwingi North, Kenya. A number of East African countries are suffering serious locust infestation, with Kenya experiencing its worst in 70 years, which, if left unchecked, could grow 500 times in scale by June, a UN spokesman said Friday. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said besides Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are undergoing their worst locust infestation in 25 years, and that Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and Tanzania are also experiencing swarm activity and locust breeding, while the risk of spread to South Sudan is high. (Xinhua/Fred Mutune)

NAIROBI, March 25 (Xinhua) — Delayed rains in the Horn of Africa have helped keeping the locust population down, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said in its latest update on Thursday.

“As a result of poor rains in Kenya and Ethiopia, the swarms currently present in both countries are remaining immature and continue to decline due to ongoing control operations,” said FAO.

The agency noted that without rainfall, the swarms will not mature and breed, thus severely limiting the scale and extent of any breeding this season.

“The current situation is likely to continue for the remainder of this month as no significant rains are predicted to fall in northern Kenya, Ethiopia or Somalia,” said FAO.

For this reason, it added, there is cautious optimism that the current upsurge is winding down in the Horn of Africa, especially if poor rains continue to limit breeding.

“Nevertheless, it is essential to increase surveys and sustain current control operations in the affected countries as well as maintain a close watch for any unusual developments,” said FAO.

In Kenya, a few small immature swarms continue to be seen mainly in the county of Nakuru, west of Mt. Kenya and occasionally the insects have been sighted in Kajiado county near Tanzania border, according to the agency.

Control operations are still ongoing across the region in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania.