In an effort to combat the locust scourge that has gripped Kenya and its neighbors, spray planes have been deployed to disperse pesticides, one of the only effective methods of control according to experts. The work is made all the more dangerous and challenging as flight crews operate in rural areas where communication signals are nonexistent and ground crews struggle to effectively coordinate with pilots.
Currently, five planes are operating in Kenya in a desperate bid to stop the locust swarms from moving to nearby Uganda and South Sudan, potentially devastating crops that could feed thousands. The swarms have grown to billions of locusts. The United Nations has said US$76 million is urgently needed to support these efforts.
The locusts first made their way into Kenya from Somalia and Ethiopia. Somalia’s Ministry of Agriculture called the outbreak a national emergency. Parts of Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea have been affected as well.
Swarms are expected to continue as unusually high rainfall promotes the growth of vegetation that will feed the insects until the dry months, beginning in July.