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Biden mulls team to help Kenya mitigate effects of locust invasion


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Biden mulls team to help Kenya mitigate effects of locust invasion


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Summary

  • President Joe Biden has announced plans to form a US-backed team to help Kenya and other East African countries battle locusts invasions that compromise food security in the region.
  • The Biden administration proposes the formation of a high-level team comprising representatives from the United States Agency for International Development, the US National Security Council and the US Departments of State, Defence, and Agriculture.

President Joe Biden has announced plans to form a US-backed team to help Kenya and other East African countries battle locusts invasions that compromise food security in the region.

A Bill filed before the US Congress seen by the Business Daily proposes to establish an interagency working group to develop “a comprehensive, strategic plan to control locust outbreaks in the East African region and address future outbreaks to avert mass-scale food insecurity and potential political destabilisation, and for other purposes.”

The Biden administration proposes the formation of a high-level team comprising representatives from the United States Agency for International Development, the US National Security Council and the US Departments of State, Defence, and Agriculture.

It notes that desert locust outbreak in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, is negatively impacting food security, local livelihoods, and economic productivity, and may threaten political stability in the region.

The team which will serve for two years will come up with measures to prevent and mitigate future desert locust and other, similar destructive insect outbreaks (such as Fall Armyworm) in Africa and other parts of the world, which require a humanitarian response.

The Treasury last year termed the invasion by desert locusts as a “systemic risk” that might prevent the economy from attaining its medium-term growth target of seven percent.

Locust swarms first soared in number in late 2019, as a result of unusual weather patterns amplified by climate change. They dispersed eastwards from Yemen leaving Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia hardest hit.

“In order to optimise the United States response to the desert locust outbreak, an interagency working group should be established to develop and implement a comprehensive, strategic plan to control the desert locust outbreak in East Africa and other affected regions, mitigate impacts on food security, economic productivity, and political stability and prevent future outbreaks,” says the Bill.

“The President shall establish an interagency working group to coordinate the United States response to the ongoing desert locust outbreak in East Africa and other affected regions, including the development of a comprehensive, strategic plan to control the outbreak, mitigate the impacts on food security, economic productivity, and political stability, and prevent future outbreaks.”

The team which will serve for two years will come up with measures to prevent and mitigate future desert locust and other, similar destructive insect outbreaks (such as Fall Armyworm) in Africa and other parts of the world, which require a humanitarian response.

Swarms of desert locusts have reappeared in East Africa to the dismay of farmers and villagers who witnessed them wreak havoc on their crops and pasture in previous years.

Kenya has funneled tens of millions of shillings towards their control.

Locust swarms first soared in number in late 2019, as a result of unusual weather patterns amplified by climate change. They dispersed eastwards from Yemen leaving Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia hardest hit.

The Treasury last year termed the invasion by desert locusts as a “systemic risk” that might prevent the economy from attaining its medium-term growth target of seven percent.

Systemic risk is the possibility that an event at an industry level could severely hurt the entire economy.

While estimates of the economic damage caused by the migratory pests on pasture and farmlands are yet to be quantified, the Treasury said potential disruption of agriculture poses systemic risks to Kenya’s economy.

“Locust invasion witnessed in the country in late 2019 and early 2020 poses a risk to agricultural production and food security,” says the Treasury in the Budget Policy Statement.

Elevating the locusts’ invasion as a fiscal risk places the invading insects among other potential threats to the economy that are watched keenly by policy wonks.



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