New swarm of locusts brings devastation in Kenya

It's planting season in Kenya's Turkana region - but instead of growing, farmers like Victor Juma are seeing their crops destroyed by a new swarm of locusts.

"These are the tomatoes that have been eaten by the locust, and in the entire farm if you go around if the farmers go round or anyone can go round. You will find that almost all the tomatoes have been destroyed in this shape."

The number of locusts in East Africa exploded in late 2019, exacerbated by unusual weather patterns that had been amplified by climate change.

But this generation has hatched in Kenya's poorest region, and the young locusts are eating everything in sight.

[Farmer Christopher Lotit, saying:] "They have destroyed our maize, pawpaw tree, so it has given us a hard time."

Turkana is a vast, dry scrubland in northwest Kenya that borders Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Daniel Kirura, head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in Turkana - where 20 million people were already struggling for food - says the locusts are destabilizing an already bad situation

but he also warns that within a week wings could mature, meaning they'll be able to travel up to 80 miles a day.

"So our prayer is that we try to control them before they can go and cause problems in other countries and other regions. So, our wish is to control them before they leave Turkana county."

He says teams are working frantically to spray the locusts with insecticide before they become airborne while the farmers use tin drums to scare the locusts away from their dwindling crops.

Video Transcript

- It's planting season in Kenya's Turkana region. But instead of growing, farmers like Victor Juma are seeing their crops destroyed by a new swarm of locusts.

VICTOR JUMA: In the entire farm, if you go around, the farmers go round or anyone can go around, you'll find that almost all the tomatoes have been destroyed in this shape.

- The number of locusts in East Africa exploded in late 2019, exacerbated by unusual weather patterns that have been amplified by climate change. But this generation has hatched in Kenya's poorest region. And the young locusts are eating everything in sight.

- They destroyed our maize, pawpaw tree, So it give us a hard work, hard time.

- Turkana is a vast, dry scrubland in Northwest Kenya that borders Uganda, South Sudan, and Ethiopia. Daniel Kirura, head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in Turkana, where 20 million people were already struggling for food, says the locusts are destabilizing an already bad situation. But he also warns that within a week, wings could mature, meaning they'll be able to travel up to 80 miles a day.

DANIEL KIRURA: Our prayer is that we try to arrest that because they can go on cause problems in other counties and other regions. So our wish is to control them before they leave Turkana county. He says teams are working frantically to spray the locusts with insecticide before they become airborne, while the farmers use tin drums to scare the locusts away from their dwindling crops.