Kenya: Locust outbreak may be coming to an end

The Horn of Africa has been experiencing its worst locust crisis in more than 25 years. In Kenya, the swarms of insects are the worst they've been in 70 years. But things might be looking up.

The current locust upsurge began in 2018 when tropical cyclones Luban and Mekunu drenched the Arabian Peninsula, creating the perfect conditions for the hatching of desert locusts. Winds carried swarms across the Red Sea; they arrived in the Horn of Africa in mid-2019. That year, cyclones again left perfect conditions for locusts to spread. Within the first few months of 2020, huge swarms had spread across Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea. A second wave hit Kenya this past November.

While in East Africa a lack of rain is usually cause for major concern, this year the delayed spring rains could be beneficial. "The current upsurge showed signs of significant decline during March as desert locust swarms continued to decrease in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia due to ongoing control operations and poor rainfall," the FAO stated. "[…] below-normal rainfall expected this spring would limit breeding to parts of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia at a much lower scale than last year. If this is followed by poor rainfall this summer in northeast Ethiopia, then the desert locust situation should return to normal.”


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