Kenya is facing a Desert Locust crisis, deemed the worst in 70 years.
This crisis has pushed millions into food insecurity and significantly worsened the situation for agro-pastoralist communities living in arid and semi-arid areas of the country.
ACTED, as leader of the Kenya Cash Consortium (KCC), recently took action to ensure the most vulnerable families could continue to buy food and key items, thus reducing the risk these individuals would be forced from their homes and land.
Overview of the Desert Locust Crisis :
Desert locusts represent one of the greatest threats to agriculture and food security across the Sahel, due to their mobile nature, ability to reproduce quickly and appetite for large quantities of vegetation.
An average swarm is able to travel approximately 150 kilometers per day and devour food equivalent to 2,500 people in the same period.
The population in northern Kenya is primarily agro-pastoral and thus especially vulnerable to the combined effects of climate change (such as drought and flooding) and the Desert Locust infestation. This infestation has so far impacted tens of thousands of hectares of land, subsequently affecting crops and rangeland for livestock and food security.
With the increase in food prices, access to food has been limited for already vulnerable households. 3.1 million Kenyans are now grappling with food insecurity as a result.
How are we acting to improve the situation?
The Kenya Cash Consortium (KCC), led by ACTED, is providing multi-purpose cash assistance to food insecure households located in the epicenter of the crisis to support their recovery.
Catherine, a 42-year-old mother of eight, from Samburu county said: “Being the sole breadwinner for my family, I used to rely on sale of livestock to feed my eight children. However, because of the recurrent droughts and recent desert locust invasion, food prices increased and I couldn’t buy much food with the money I had, which led to my family suffering.”
“Through this cash program, I have been able to purchase food rations for my family and improve our well-being. I have also been able to care for my disabled child by buying locally available building materials to provide him with a shelter as well as food and clothing’,’ said Catherine.
Wangari, a mother of five from Ndonyo Uasin said: “I used to sell at least one goat per month in order to meet my family’s needs. The locust invasion depleted the pasture around Ndonyo Uasin and I had to move my livestock a great distance to find pasture.”
“I have used the cash assistance to buy materials to build a makeshift food kiosk in the market, which will help me have a source of income during future crisis. I have also been able to buy goats which I can now use to increase my herd,” said Wangari.