Stories of Change

A program participant in Kitui County plants green gram seeds that she received through the CWS response.

Hope and recovery for 800 Kenyan families after the desert locust emergency

In 2020, swarms of desert locusts resembling dark storm clouds descended ravenously on the East and greater horn of Africa. They roved through the region and flattened farms and pasture lands posing an unprecedented threat to the food security of millions of people and their livestock in already vulnerable areas.

Farmers could do nothing but watch with dismay as the huge swarms of marauding insects ate their crops.

In Kenya, locusts infested more than 70,000 hectares (about 173,000 acres) of land, including crops, fodder and pasture. This put many families’ livelihoods at risk. 

The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. It is highly mobile and feeds on large quantities of any kind of green vegetation, including crops, pasture, and fodder. According to experts, it was the worst desert locust invasion in over 25 years in Ethiopia and Somalia and the worst observed in over 70 years in Kenya.

The invasion came at a time when the government and humanitarian actors were battling the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating economic and social disruption it caused. More time, energy and resources were diverted for COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and response.

CWS responded quickly through an ACT Alliance Desert Locust Regional appeal. Our team worked to prevent a significant decline in food security and to help farmers and families safeguard their livelihoods in affected areas affected. A total of 800 households received support in form of early recovery seeds and training of drought-tolerant crop production.

“When the locusts invaded our farms, they ate everything. CWS brought us seeds which we hope will help us recover from the loss,” said Kalii Mukumbu, a farmer in Kitui County.

This work was carried out in collaboration with the ACK Diocese of Kitui as well as the Kitui County Ministry of Agriculture, Water & Livestock. Following a rapid assessment in the affected area, our team distributed three varieties of crop seeds: green grams, beans and cowpea, which are well suited for the agro-ecological zone.

Thanks to Week of Compassion for their support of this response.