Uganda on high alert as locusts approach common border with Kenya


Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda on Wednesday said the country is on high alert as locusts draw close to the common border with Kenya.

All nine ministries have been instructed to work together to collectively heighten the country’s preparedness to prevent or handle the invasion, said Rugunda in a statement issued here.

The locusts have reached Kenya’s Samburu and Turkana areas, which are close to Uganda’s northeastern border, he said, citing relevant reports.

“This is an emergency, and all efforts and agencies must be on alert to play their role in a timely manner,” Rugunda said.

He noted that the agriculture ministry has been instructed to submit a budget to the finance ministry to make clear the resources required to prevent the invasion.

The agriculture ministry earlier indicated that it needed a contingency fund of 1.35 million U.S. dollars to be used for aircraft fuel, pesticides and other supplies.

Rugunda said the government is in touch with Kenya to seek joint efforts to contain the locusts.

The prime minister urged the public to stock up food reserves as a precaution.

Experts have warned that an invasion of locusts would wreak havoc by destroying crops and vegetation and cause famine.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, a very small swarm of locusts eat as much food in one day as about 35,000 people.
Uganda last experienced a major locust invasion 70 years ago, with immense damage on crops, according to the agriculture ministry.