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Locust Invasion Spreads Across Six Counties in Kenya1 minute read

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The locust invasion that has ravaged vegetation and crops in parts of Somalia and the Kenyan counties of Garissa, Mandera and Wajir for a few weeks now has shown few signs of abating; in recent days, the pests have spread to Isiolo and Meru Counties.

Residents of Ndumuru in Igembe North, Meru County have reported spotting several colonies of the destructive pests in the area. More swarms of the locusts have also invaded neighbouring Garbatulla and Merti areas in Isiolo County.

Meru County’s biggest export is Miraa, known internationally as khat. Trade and export of the stimulant plant is a billion shilling industry and there are fears from farmers that the locusts will decimate the cash crop.

Kenyans have called upon the government, through the National Disaster Operatioins Center under the Ministry of Interior to intervene urgently to curb the spread of the pestilence. In response, the ministry says it has set in motion plans for aerial spraying of the affected regions.

Speaking to News Central, governement spokesperson, Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said, “the government has deployed both hand-held sprayers and aerial spraying capabilities to the counties. There are also ground controls teams that have equally been deployed to the counties. As of today, the counties affected are Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Meru, and Isiolo. Large swarms have been sprayed in Wajir and Marsabit.”

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Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement

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Tanzania has signed a loan agreement with France to finance water supply projects that will benefit about 770,000 people in the country’s Morogoro municipality.

The French government will extend the loan worth about $76 million to Tanzania through its French Development Agency (AFD), according to Dotto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who signed the agreement on behalf of Tanzania.

“Upon completion, the water supply in the Morogoro municipality will increase from the current 37,000 cubic meters a day to 108,000 cubic meters a day,” James told a press conference following a signing ceremony in Morogoro.

AFD Country Representative for Tanzania, Stephanie Mouen says the project will improve the well-being of the people in the municipality and it will also improve the environment.

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Uganda approves return of over 2,500 nationals stranded abroad

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Over 2,500 Ugandan nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19 pandemic can now return home as approved by the Ugandan cabinet.

The cabinet on Monday, agreed that Ugandan nationals trapped in 66 countries can return home at their own cost.

The government is making arrangements with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to fly the stranded citizens home, Judith Nabakooba, the country’s minister for information, communication technology and national guidance says, adding that all the returning citizens will have to undergo a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine. 

President Yoweri Museveni last month, directed Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to study the possibility of evacuating dozens of citizens stranded abroad amid Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions. 

To contain the spread of Covid-19, the country on March 22 suspended all incoming flights, except cargo flights. 

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Border closure hurts Tanzania’s horticultural exports

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A border closure between Tanzania and Kenya has hit Dar es Salaam’s horticulture sector due to long delays at the crossing for fresh produce truckers, resulting in a disruption of the supply chain.

Horticulture is one of Tanzania’s economic pillars.

This past week, Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) Chief Executive, Jacqueline Mkindi asked the governments of Tanzania and Kenya to resolve the border issue for the sake of an already struggling exports industry.

Most of Tanzania’s horticulture produce is exported through Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). “If this tug of war continues, we’ll be the first to suffer as we still rely on JKIA and the port in Mombasa to export crops whose routes are not open from Tanzania,” Mkindi adds. “Our government has all along been considerate to horticulture. We advise it to embark on economic negotiations with Kenya to allow cargo to continue crossing borders smoothly.”

After an international aviation halt, the TAHA signed a deal with Ethiopian Airlines.

Despite the deal with Ethiopian Airlines to ferry fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers to global markets from Kilimanjaro International Airport, the airline has still not been granted long-term landing permits.

Currently, TAHA has to apply for a landing warrant for every incoming flight at routine airport charges and has to attach backup documents each time.

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