Humanitarian Support: Building Resilience among communities affected by Desert Locusts

Humanitarian Support: Building Resilience among communities affected by Desert Locusts

A visit to Kenya’s Northern County of Turkana is Patterned with Vastness of lush green landscapes that eventually give way to vast drylands with pockets of green vegetation- as you traverse various counties into Turkana, home to about a million people. Communities living in here are mostly pastoralists with few engaging in Agrarian activities. The county has over the years shared mixed fortunes, with insecurity, drought, unreliable rains, poor infrastructure, and low literacy- constantly dragging the region’s development.

In Late 2019, Kenya was among countries in the Horn of Africa; that witnessed a massive invasion by Desert locusts.  The invasion was considered one of the worst ever seen in over 70 years. About 2 dozen counties were affected, threatening the livelihoods of millions of people, mostly within the Northern, Eastern, Rift Valley, and Coastal regions.

In Kenya’s North-Western Regions, thousands of hectares of cropland and pasture were ravaged by the locusts. Communities faced the risk of starvation owing to Compromised agricultural productivity. Further, some of the areas were already facing severe acute food insecurity due to unreliable rainfall, floods, and insecurity, and later on in 2020, the COVID 19 Pandemic. The national and County Governments, working with other stakeholders stepped up efforts to curb the spread of the migratory pests. This would help in, among other things, safeguarding the food supply chains in the region.

ADS Kenya in Partnership with Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance, mobilized resources to support communities within Turkana County, which was among the affected counties.

The Interventions rolled out by ADS targeted the most vulnerable Populations, working to build the Communities’ resilience to any effects brought about by the invasion.

These sought to:

  1. Improve and increase access to Food for humans and Protection of livelihoods.
  2. Ensure sustained household income in the face of disruptions.
  3. Strengthen the Capacity of communities to respond to the pandemic.
  4. Ensure access to clean water and high levels of sanitation in the face of the COVID 19 Pandemic.

With Turkana County being largely Arid, hunger and prolonged seasons of drought are some of the factors that compromise the full potential of communities here. The county is also considered among the food insecure counties in the Country. To protect the livelihoods of the community, at-risk members and onboarded into a cash transfer program.

This being a fairly unusual phenomenon, the response to the invasion by most actors borrowed from past practice as it proved a learning experience to most. Intermittent swarms occasionally swept through the already ravaged farms in the region. Hence, ADS relied on Local scouts who had already been trained by The Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as by the Government. The Interventions also embraced local Knowledge to ensure community members participated in the response.

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